Academic under-funding 101

The Canadian Studies department at Queen’s is facing a proposed 39 per cent budget cut that will incur a $14,000 loss in funds for the already financially restricted program. Canadian Studies offers only two courses: The Canadian Nation, Real and/or Imagined (CDNS200) and CanadianHumour (CDNS401). The former is a full-credit compulsory course; the latter is a half-credit, non-compulsory course.

Although the department has aspirations to expand, the reduced budget presents a huge obstacle. The cuts won’t just prevent the department from growing, they will shrink it further.

Almost paradoxically, the school touts Canadian Studies as being a department integral to the Queen’s curriculum while at the same time asserting it’s a small enough program that slicing its budget nearly in half will go relatively unnoticed.

There’s also the notion that the department’s enrolment is low because so few students care to learn about Canadian issues. Their indifference, however, is only fueled by the lack of enthusiasm Queen’s exhibits for the Canadian Studies programs. How can students express their interest when their course options are a grand total of one class?

It’s a sad truth that the cuts are somewhat indicative of the value we place on knowledge of Canada’s history; it’s even more discouraging that it demonstrates the priority we give to bigger departments here at Queen’s, often at the expense of smaller ones. Granted, the University can’t be blamed for trying to balance the books, which understandably necessitates some redistribution. Criticism is due, however, when there is little to no consultation as to where the needed funds are taken from.

A less detrimental route would have been for Queen’s to choose larger departments that perhaps wouldn’t have felt such an impact if hit with budget cuts. Although other departments face smaller budgets, larger faculties such as Political Studies or Economics may not have had to make the same drastic adaptations. Through minimal percentage cuts to several of the big departments, $14,000 could have accumulated with fewer consequences.

The lack of communication with students shows that the University hardly values the program as much as it professes. Budget cuts are an unfortunate reality of avoiding financial woes, but they can’t just be swallowed if their allocations are so visibly disproportionate.

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