Small programs fight cut

Budget reductions counter to University goals, professor says

Language programs will meet soon to discuss the future of language studies at Queen’s.
Language programs will meet soon to discuss the future of language studies at Queen’s.

The Japanese studies program was slated to have $17,000 cut from its budget next year—between 25 and 30 per cent of its budget—but a letter written by Japanese language instructor Katsue Reeve was enough to make Associate Dean of Arts and Science James Carson change his mind.

Reeve argued two main points; first, she pointed to the goals outlined by Queen’s strategic plan.

“I think if Queen’s is emphasizing internationalization, it would be nice to expand courses for Chinese and Japanese.” She said a cut of that size would put the whole Japanese program in jeopardy.

She also highlighted the difference in difficulty of the language, compared to other languages, as a factor in determining the quantity and intensity of study required by students in the program.

Carson, who is in charge of language programs within the Faculty of Arts and Science, said Reeve’s arguments convinced him.

“Languages are where internationalization starts.”

He said it’s possible that the Faculty of Arts and Science will need to cut $4.4 million next year, which works out to a five per cent cut per department. But the percentages are being adjusted according to how well each department can cope with the cuts.

“We did try to balance things out as fairly as possible.”

He said that, if the University goes through with the proposed cuts, Japanese studies will have to give up part of its budget. The money

would come from a decrease in faculty salary. Reeves will retire in April, and her replacement will be paid a reduced salary due to a lack of experience.

Carson said the reason small departments such as Chinese and Japanese are often asked to cut courses is because it’s not possible to get a degree in either program which means every course in both programs is considered an elective. But he said he tries to spread the cuts out as much as possible.

“If the English department can cut one or two electives from the books to preserve Japanese, then I think that’s a good thing.”

He said the biggest departments in the faculty aren’t getting off scot-free either.

“You can reasonably assume that they would have to make cuts of more than $100,000 [each].”

Carson said the faculty hasn’t made any cuts to its programs in two years, but in the previous years, money was saved by cutting staff positions within departments.

Now that departments are allocating the minimum number of staff to keep the departments running, it’s the courses that have been put on the chopping block. But he said the faculty has no intention of cutting programs.

“I think a lot of people are operating on second- and third- hand information without any real knowledge of the issue,” he said. “There’s no desire by the Faculty of Arts and Science to cut programs.”

Carson said Queen’s doesn’t offer as many languages as most schools and he’s trying to maintain as many as possible to respond to student demand.

If a program has enough students enrolled to fill another section, the co-ordinator must approach Carson during the summer after pre-registration to discuss it. Carson said it costs about $7,500 to add another section to a half credit course. The money goes toward paying an adjunct professor to teach the class.

Reeves said she hopes the Japanese program will grow.

She said that, this year, the first-year course turned away almost as many students as it let in. For each of the three courses offered, the program has a 30-student limit, which is further restricted by the size of classroom each course is assigned.

She said many students also encounter problems because none of the three courses offered fits their skill level.

“Because we only offer three courses, a lot of students don’t fit into those three courses.”

Interest level and scope of material to teach is high enough that, if resources allowed, the programs could offer many more courses.

“If we wanted to, we could have three or four [sections] of Japanese at the introductory level.”

Neither the Japanese nor the Chinese studies programs have an office or a full-time department head. Both fall under the jurisdiction of the German studies department. This means that if either program wants to make changes, it needs the approval of the German studies department head.

Petra Fachinger, acting German studies department head, said the decision of the administration to take the money from somewhere else is a step in the right direction.

“I’m very happy that the admin realized that this is a very successful and very important program,” she said, adding that she believes languages at Queen’s aren’t valued as highly as they should be.

“Some faculty members are trying to draw everybody’s attention on campus to the situation of the modern languages.”

To find a solution to the problem, Fachinger is helping to facilitate a meeting between department heads, program co-ordinators and undergraduate and graduate co-ordinators of modern language programs, the French department and the history department to generate ideas.

“We believe that we need a little more attention from the administration.”

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