Russian M.A. Gets Discontinued
November 28, 2004 9:13 PM
SF State's Academic Senate voted 25 –15 with 3 abstentions to discontinue the last Master of Arts in Russian within the entire CSU system.
The proposed discontinuance by the EPC of the Bachelor of Arts in Russian remains to be voted on and President Corrigan will make the last and final decision as to the ultimate fate of SF State’s Russian program.
Russian program director Katerina Siskron and Foreign Language Chair Midori McKeon did not dispute the proposal for discontinuance of the M.A, due to the lack of tenure track faculty the program has. There was some talk, however, of the M.A. program being needed to fully master the language of Russian.
“Learning the Russian language is harder than Spanish or French for example,” said Siskron. “While, in two or three years you can be almost fluent in one of the romance languages, it takes longer to learn Russian for most people.”
McKeon said that eliminating the Russian M.A “would turn the clock back to 1964 when there was no Master of Arts in Russian.”
Even with a majority of the senate voting in favor of discontinuing the M.A, there were several senate members who were displeased with the provisional discontinuance and noted several Russian-literate authors who have helped shape our present understanding of the Russian culture.
Many senate members also noted that the Russian program was not a “stand alone” program and served many other departments within the University such as Creative Writing and English.
Marlon Hom, Academic Senate member and Chair of SF State’s Asian American Studies program was among the few that did not vote in favor of the discontinuance.
“I believe that language study is an integral component in educating good citizenshipand civility in a nation of diverse ethnic and cultural heritages such as ours,” said Hom. “I suspect there are more Russians who can speak English than Americans who can speak Russian. That should tell us something about our nation's attitude towards language studies.”
During the meeting, Russian studies students were able to speak to the importance that the Russian program has been for them.
Russian studies major and co-president of SF State’s Russian club Amber Clark, 23, was among the students who spoke. As a Russian student, Clark agrees that the Russian language is more difficult to learn than some, and argued that reducing the program to a minor would not give students the necessary tools that they would need to fully understand the Russian language.
While Dean of Humanities Paul Sherwin does not believe that the program has enough demand to maintain its present status, in a previous interview Clark had said, “Just because Russian is not a big money-maker, does it not deserve to be on campus?”
Siskron argued that the University was choosing quality over quantity by making the choice to discontinue the Russian degrees.
On Nov. 30th, the academic senate will host a second and final hearing in regards to the proposed discontinuance of the Russian B.A. If it is voted to be discontinued, it will be the last Bachelor of Arts within the CSU system in Northern California.
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