Students petition to save USask language program

Cuts slated to reduce course offerings, increase class sizes

Some students at the University of Saskatchewan are hoping that a petition signed by nearly 2,000 people may prevent major cuts to the university’s language program.

Knowledge of proposed cuts to the Language and Linguistics department had spread amongst students through instructors and two town hall meetings held by the College of Arts and Science, which houses the program, though the university’s budget has not been officially released, according to The Sheaf. The rumoured changes include reducing the German language program  to one third year course and increasing class sizes. For example, first year Spanish courses could be pushed to hold 125 students.

One instructor explained that having 40 students in her German tutorial was overwhelming enough.

“I did not know how to incorporate every student, especially as they all have different questions about the course material,” Elena Hagemann, a tutorial leader for a third year German course, explained to the Sheaf. She also felt that a class of 125 students “would be of no use” to students.

Hearing of the changes prompted students in the department to circulate a petition to stop the cuts to their program. In three days alone, the students were able to collect 1,944 signatures on campus. Officials in the College of Arts and Science were presented with the petition at a town hall meeting last Friday.

“I’m apprehensive, but feeling a lot better than last week,” Josh Kroeker, a first year student in the department who helped draft the petition, told the Star Phoenix.

David Parkinson, U of S vice dean of humanities and fine arts, said that it was low demand for language courses that led to plans to reduce the program, and questioned whether students who signed the petition to save the courses would then register for them.

However, he told the Star Phoenix he was “inspired” by the students’ organized and well-prepared presentation, but added that reducing costs is still a reality for the college, as it is with many units on campus.

Parkinson explained that the university wants to continue teaching all the language courses currently offered, but that they may not be taught every year. Right now, the university is primarily concerned with making sure students in the program who are planning to graduate in the next year can complete all their required credits if any courses get axed.