By Jennifer Cain
City on a Hill Press Reporter
“Community Studies is facing a troubling and urgent crisis from above,” said an e-mail distributed Thursday morning to graduate students in social documentation.
After the e-mail leaked to several undergraduate students, a movement to save the undergraduate program developed. Those students then questioned various members of the community studies faculty regarding the e-mail distributed to the graduate students.
A response from one of the faculty members, whom undergraduate organizers did not identify, confirmed that the community studies major is highly threatened by budget cuts.
“The discussion was to remove the administrative staff and disperse the faculty among other departments,” the faculty member said Friday morning in an e-mail to Adam Butler, a fourth-year American studies major and key organizer in the movement to save the program. “There have been no decisions that we will only take care of declared majors. We will proceed as normal and accept any student who wants to declare until any further decisions are made.”
Approximately four hours after this private e-mail was sent, Joanie Peterson, an undergraduate director of the community studies department, sent a public e-mail to the department’s undergraduates.
“The Dean’s [Dean of Social Sciences Sheldon Kamieniecki] proposal is to eliminate staff jobs as early as July,” Peterson’s e-mail said. “As a department and individually, we will be enlisting the support of our colleagues in other departments on campus as well as the Academic Senate, and we are also letting our alumni know what the Dean is proposing.”
According to Mike Rotkin, a lecturer and field studies organizer within the community studies department, Dean Kamieniecki is proposing that all community studies undergraduate staff be cut. Rotkin was told this in a department meeting on Wednesday, where Kamieniecki made the announcement.
“[The dean] pointed out that the Social Science division need to take a $1.3 million cut,” Rotkin said. “This particular department is taking a much bigger hit then the others.”
In an attempt to gain support, a Facebook group called “Save Community Studies From Budget Cuts” was created. The group gained almost 600 supporters within 24 hours.
A note on the group’s Facebook page announces a student and faculty meeting that will happen Friday, April 7 at 6 p.m. in Classroom Unit 002[See Update Below]. The note urges all those concerned about the major being cut to attend and help organize actions that will salvage the program.
Update: The next meeting will be taking place on Tuesday, April 7, at 6 p.m. in Oakes 105. [-ed]