Monday, April 4, 2011

The Importance of Diversity in Education

Tom Corbett, governor of Pennsylvania, hater of education

Due to massive budget cuts, my university is getting slammed. State and state-affiliated universities all over Pennsylvania are being affecting by this, which is bringing up two main problems for students:
1.) Is tuition going to go up? (Yep)
2.) Is my education going to be affected? (... Maybe?)

The first of the budget cuts that have been decided I heard about, unfortunately hit close to home for me. Temple is getting rid of interdisciplinary departments and absorbing them into existing departments. That means that Women's Studies, LGBT Studies, Jewish Studies, American Studies, Asian Studies, and Latin-American Studies are all being shuffled into different departments.

Women's Studies and LGBT studies are being put into Sociology. While at times those fields overlap, they don't always. What this does for the budget is that Temple doesn't have to pay as many administrative salaries. As of now, no one is being fired, but the administrators of the interdisciplinary departments will no longer hold those positions in the coming school year. That means that the administrators of the departments doing the absorbing will be overburdened with this influx of classes and professors, and will be making decisions for departments that they do not necessarily have a background in. Interdisciplinary studies are losing their autonomy.

The point of interdisciplinary studies is that they are interdisciplinary. While, as far as I know, when I graduate, my degree will still say Minor in Women's Studies, it means that in the future there will likely be fewer cross-listed courses, fewer choices for people majoring and minoring in interdisciplinary fields, and less representation (like with advising). Moreover, Temple's supposed devotion to diversity is being undermined by this flagrant disregard for the importance of interdisciplinary studies.

Although in my experiences with student activism, I know students at Temple are not the quickest bunch to rally for any cause, I think there's some momentum in fighting this. I talked to a girl in one of my classes who is in Latin-American Studies who started organizing against this, and she asked me to try to rally women's studies majors and minors against this. Oh, yeah, I told her, women's studies majors and minors are an angry bunch of people and we're going to turn out for this. She's sending me updates as the situation progresses. As of now, we're waiting to hear from the dean, and there is a growing facebook presence in opposition to this budget cut (right now the group has over 200 people). I really hope that this cut does not happen, because my women's studies classes (and the classes I've taken in Asian Studies and Jewish Studies) have really enriched my education and understanding of the world. It is unfortunate that programs dealing with minorities and diversity are often the first to get hit when any kind of budget cut is proposed, but that should be all the more reason we try to fight this.

3 comments:

  1. If Temple is negatively impacted, then fewer out of state staudents will be attracted (less tuition), fewer apartments will be rented (impacting the local economy) and Alumni will be less motivated to promote Temple. This has a ripple effect that could be felt for decades. Get Bill Cosby! Get other high ranking/famous Temple alums to speak out. The promise of a better future for Pennsylanians is a good education. It should be the institution they guard most fiercely when it comes to budget cuts.

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  2. Everything related to diversity (I am taking a catch-all diversity class for my education major) makes me angry. Most of my notes on past and current issues are "fuck you, [rich white man]."

    I'm sorry that this is happening to Temple.

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