In the face of inadequate funding, the UCSB Law & Society Dept. has made plans to shut down the major.
According to Dept. Chair Lisa Hajjar, the university’s financial crunch has led to the deterioration of the program and forced the department to consider closing down altogether. With only two permanent faculty members returning next fall, the department has announced that it does not have the resources to accept any new students into the major.
Hajjar said the department will revisit the issue next fall before deciding whether or not to close down. A final decision would then have to be approved by the UCSB Academic Senate.
“In a better budget climate, this strain could have been compensated by the hiring of new or more faculty, but that is an unavailable option,” Hajjar said. “[Reopening] would entail a level of financial commitment that the university can’t make.”
Founded in 1972, the department officially closed its doors to new students in 2006. Approximately 150 students are currently enrolled in the major, and most are graduating this spring.
According to L&S Academic Advisor Cindy Cortez, the department has avoided shutting down entirely in order to ensure students already enrolled in the major will have the opportunity to graduate.
Hajjar said the decision to stop admission to the program in 2006 was intended to adjust the number of students in the major to match the number of permanent faculty members. When this policy was implemented, however, the aim was not to permanently shut down the department.
Tanya Cecena, a fourth-year law & society and women’s studies major, said she was disappointed to hear the department would be closing.
“It’s sad for me because I really like it. Out of all my professors, law and society professors have been the most there for me and the most passionate,” Cecena said. “It’s sad that other students will be denied the opportunity to study law and society, since laws affect all aspects of life.”
Hajjar said the end of the law and society major will have a substantial impact on students’ course options.
“It is unfortunate that students will not have the opportunity to pursue a wonderful curriculum of socio-legal studies, that range from domestic issues and legal and political theories to the study of conflicts and rights-oriented social movements around the world,” Hajjar said. “The program’s curriculum is available to be reinstituted if, in the future, the material conditions make that possible.”
Despite the imminent closure of the department, the Law and Society Journal will continue to be published. The journal was first undergraduate law review in the nation and the top 50 law schools in the nation subscribe to the publication.
John Pinkerton, a fourth-year law and society major, said he feels the department’s situation is unjust.
“It’s unfair to everyone who wanted to see the major continue,” Pinkerton said.