The German philosopher Franz Rosenzweig once said, “as many languages someone speaks, as many times he/she is a human being.” The cuts to the foreign language and literature programs have been brutal throughout UCSB and throughout other UC campuses. This, in spite of the fact that, for example, UCSB’s German and Russian language programs’ high enrollments are the envy of much wealthier universities. We have been forced to drastically reduce the number of courses offered in German, Russian and Hebrew, in spite of the fact that students are clamoring for them.
Our language instructors have to admit more students into their classes than is pedagogically sound. We had to cut the “German for Graduate Students” courses, even though graduate students from many departments have been relying on them for years. We had to eliminate all conversation courses in German and Russian, even though this is where our students can best practice what they have studied. We have lost TA-ships for our graduate students in German and Comparative Literature, a cut resulting in fewer sections and overcrowding of the remaining sections.
We keep hearing that UC is the world’s premier public university, but if the past and current budgetary priorities continue, UC students will soon no longer speak the languages of the world. During a time of increasing globalization, UC is drastically cutting foreign language instruction. The future is a global one in which our students can only succeed if their minds and hearts have been opened to, not shut off from, the languages and cultural sensibilities of other peoples.