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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Programs need committee representation

Published: January 29, 2010
Section: Editorials

Nearly every college and university in America is facing a long road of tough choices at the moment. Hell: everyone around the world is coming up against hard decisions. With the recession still strangling the economy, it comes as no surprise that Brandeis is stepping up the debate over what programs are necessary, and which can be cast aside. Last week’s most recent news from the Board of Trustees that the school has run out of options means Brandeis is facing some of the hardest decisions in our history: Cutting out academic programs.

As the announcement was made, a committee was formed comprised of 21 faculty members to make recommendations to the Board, on which programs can be eliminated. Nothing will make this easy: The task before this group, concluding which programs are at the peak of excellence and should remain and which could be erased, is daunting. Needless to say we do not envy these members.

Obviously, when there are 21 people on this committee, some programs and departments are not going to be represented. Still, it seems strange that the committee lacks representation from the same three departments that came under siege last semester when the Curriculum for Academic Restructuring Committee threatened to make them history. The committee contains no members associated with the Afro and African American Studies (AAAS), Classics or American Studies Departments, while three members of the English department are holding seats.

While Dean Adam Jaffe claims that no one professor is on the committee for the benefit of their own department, but rather for the benefit ofthe school as a whole, it is fair to say that at the end of the day, people will always put themselves first. If someone suggests disposing of the English Department, for example, there are at least three professors there ready to defend their right to exist. Should anyone choose to target American Studies, Classics or AAAS, however, there is no one there to can come to their defense.

We don’t mean to jump the gun, or subject ourselves to conspiracy theories, but the administration is sending the message they still have yet to hear last spring’s outcry.