By Sarah Welsh
City on a Hill Press Reporter

As California’s deficit continues to trickle down into the university system, budget cuts may limit students’ options for undergraduate general education classes.

“A lot of popular general education courses are being eliminated,” said Stephen Thorsett, dean of physical and biological sciences. “Our first priority is to make sure that people who have to get classes to graduate get those classes.”

The Violent Universe, a popular introductory astronomy course, was recently cut. The biology program is expecting a big cut as well, Thorsett said.

Early last year, in an effort to compensate for California’s deficit, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cut the UC and CSU budgets by 10 percent. He aims to increase the student-to-faculty ratio by 10 percent. With the economy deteriorating, more cuts are expected. This means fewer classes and teachers for students at all UC campuses.

UCSC is bracing for the newest cuts to academic programs for the 2009-2010 school year. In a November 2008 address to the UC Board of Regents, Chancellor George Blumenthal said that while he is deeply concerned about the situation, cuts will “first involve reductions to our academic programs and hence, instruction.”

David Kliger, campus provost and executive vice chancellor, asked that each campus principal officer submit two or more proposals for reducing costs in their areas of responsibility by Jan. 9.

In a letter to the UCSC community, Kliger said that “this request in no way implies that we are imposing a flat, across-the-board reduction to all campus operating units.”

Nevertheless, he said, each department has to prioritize what they believe is most important. Faculty will face new rounds of cuts, to be announced later this year.

Classes are increasingly prioritized by necessity and prioritized for people who need the class to graduate. That focus makes it difficult to get into many lower-division classes. Additionally, many such classes are cut.

“Demand is high and we’re not able to accommodate everyone,” said David Jones, acting dean of the arts and Porter College provost.

Though the staff of many departments worry about the potential effects of new budget cuts, some departments still suffer from old cuts.

“They cut the program down in 1992,” said Peter Elsea, professor of electronic music, “and we have never really recovered.”

One electronic music course was cut down from two sections of 15 to one section of 25, and the program is very selective.

“We’ve had a key instructor who left us last year,” Elsea said. “We haven’t been given the funds to replace him.”