By Rae Licari
Last Thursday night I received some rather upsetting and disturbing news at the conclusion of my elementary Italian class. The entire class, two dozen or so students, was informed that we would not have a course for the spring semester.
I was shocked and horrified. Once again, one of my areas of study has been deemed "nonessential" and targeted for elimination as a result of the recent budget cuts.
Italian is not some fruity language for opera aficionados. It is a valid modern language that has a rich, diverse culture attached to it. Italian is not only an official language of Italy, but also of Switzerland, Ethiopia and several other countries. In fact, Italian is spoken on five of the seven continents of the world.
What’s more, it’s not just a language that has been cut from UNO’s program – cultural diversity has been cut. It seems the university officials responsible for this cut are telling students such as myself "Too bad, you should’ve picked something more popular."
One of the benefits to studying a less-widespread foreign language is it makes a student that much more marketable.
Sure, lots of people can speak Spanish or French, but Italian? The numbers are significantly smaller and a person with that skill is much rarer and as such, much more valuable to potential employers.
If foreign language is such a "nonessential" area of study, perhaps someone should start telling the high school guidance counselors and foreign language teachers that.
After all, if it isn’t essential, students don’t need to waste their time with high school courses, some of which are in preparation for eventual college courses, right?
I realize the cuts have to come from somewhere. It would even be na¨ve of me to think Italian is the only language that has been eliminated. I also realize that even after all my arguments the higher-ups in charge of the cuts may still refuse to see the importance of keeping Italian courses as part of the foreign language department.
However, this university has an obligation to the students currently enrolled to allow them to finish their course of study in the Italian language. Two continuous years of the same foreign language is a requirement for any student working toward a Bachelor of Arts in the College of Arts and Sciences. Once students have begun an area of study in ANY department, they should be allowed to complete it. Is that not the reasoning behind allowing graduate students in sociology, a department that has been targeted for immediate elimination, to complete their studies? Why is it different for a foreign language, something that is a REQUIRED area of study? It’s the equivalent of doing away with a certain subset of the English department, say literature, then telling all the students they have to switch over to linguistics instead, all because their particular area wasn’t "essential" enough for the people in charge.
If this action is not altered myself and many other students will feel like part of our higher learning experience has been wasted. The books and materials – a textbook, a lab manual/workbook and a set of four CDs – are quite expensive, totaling well around $150. My classmates and I were under the impression that this hefty expense was to be spread out over the course of two semesters, since the same materials are used in the second semester as in the first, so without the second semester, we will have wasted at least $75.
We will also have wasted a semester’s worth of our time, which would probably set the graduation date for some of us back at least a semester, maybe more.
I have to ask the administration if all this waste and resentment, which hurts the very students this university is supposed to serve, is really worth what little money it will save by firing one adjunct faculty member.