Photo by Rosario Serna.
Photo by Rosario Serna.

Kyle Thomson wants to study Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese, but cuts to UCSC’s language department could dissolve his plans.

Thomson, a sophomore at UCSC, is a feminist studies and language studies double major. However, he recently submitted a proposal to the Committee on Educational Policy (CEP) for an individual major called Romance Languages Studies because he feels limited by the parameters of the currently offered curricula.

Thomson’s invented major would require him to study four languages in addition to cultural, linguistic, historical and political studies of those languages.

“I wanted to have my major be expressive of what I am doing,” Thomson said. “So much effort goes into earning an undergraduate degree, no one wants to dedicate themselves to something and not have it be expressive of what they are doing. If I wanted to do linguistics in English, I could have just taken linguistics, but I am interested in the linguistics of other languages as well.”

A romance language studies major would require Thomson to earn two years’ equivalent of credits in Italian, French and Spanish, and to complete the four-course Portuguese series. The possible loss of Portuguese and other courses offered by Portuguese lecturer Ana Maria Seara could potentially derail his academic planning.

“This would make it difficult to get the classes I need,” Thomson said.

He was told by an adviser that if Portuguese no longer existed at UCSC, he would need to take those courses elsewhere.

“I honestly don’t know what I would do,” Thomson said. “I would have to drive to San Jose or Monterey every week.”

Budget cuts are the reason the languages program faces reduction and elimination of languages which do not directly serve any existing major requirements. The Humanities Advisory Task Force released a report which states that if Russian, Portuguese, Hindi/Urdu and Hebrew were all eliminated, it would save the division $182,000 a year.

“My greatest fear would be that they cut all four languages — and for me, the loss of Portuguese is the biggest threat,” Thomson said.

If Portuguese is reduced or eliminated at UCSC, Thomson would need to propose an alternative plan for an independent major or attempt to take Portuguese at another school.

“I think it is important to speak up now,” Thomson said. “Don’t be afraid to go to the dean’s office hours, because if you want to take Russian or Portuguese next year, it could be gone and it will be too late.”