by Kari Barnick
Last week, The Advocate reported on program cuts and declining enrollment at MSUM and Concordia. I was glad to see the issue being addressed, because I have been battling consequences of MSUM’s budget gap, myself. As an English major and women’s and gender studies minor, I’m concerned about university program cuts and where my degree stands. I’m afraid the closer I get to graduation, the more likely it is my degree will be pulled out from under me and I’ll be left scrambling to pick up the pieces.
I value my education and the two degrees I’ve chosen. I see both programs as huge assets to MSUM. However, I don’t see the same support from the administration in securing either the English or WGS departments.
The WGS program is already miniscule compared to most. I can’t help but notice the few faculty members WGS has are slowly dwindling. How is my minor secure if the university doesn’t keep any faculty to teach its courses? This isn’t a new trend either. The WGS department has been forced to slowly decrease size due to budgeting and program costs. It seems to me WGS is targeted by cuts more than any other discipline.
The university’s vision statement includes: “MSUM values diversity and mutual respect and will strive to instill these ideals throughout the institution.” It seems odd to me that the university would include diversity in its vision statement while continuing to cut the WGS program. To be honest, I’m feeling a little jaded. If my minor is being cut out, I would like to know why and what that means for me.
I’m afraid the English department isn’t in the best hands either. Within the next couple years, the English department will see multiple retirements — at least four or five — with no plans to hire replacements. Again, I’m left asking, who’s going to be teaching my major’s courses? Without hiring new staff members, remaining staff will be spread thin and my education will be compromised. I’m already seeing classes go untaught because professors don’t have the time. I can only imagine what other classes will slip through the cracks when staff numbers continue to decline.
MSUM is worried about its declining enrollment numbers, and I don’t blame it. It should be. If WGS and English were cut, I’d have to pack my bags and find a better school. I take pride in being a Dragon and the liberal arts school we claim to be, but it’s hard to remain a loyal Dragon when my education is on the line and I’m not even being informed of how deep the cuts go. The WGS and English departments have allowed me to have a home away from home, and I’m angry that I could lose it all. For my sake and many others’, I hope English and WGS are here to stay, without any program cuts.