HASTA LA VISTA, BABY: Minnesota College Infuriates Students By Cutting Foreign Language Majors

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The decision at a small, private liberal arts college in Minnesota to cut costs by eliminating a handful of majors including German, French and Latin has students and alumni in an uproar.

The site of the kerfuffle is Concordia College, a 2,500-student school associated with Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, reports the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.

Officials at the $43,064-per-year school in northwest Minnesota announced plans to abolish nine majors last week. Protests began within a couple days. Students and alumni complained on Twitter, of course. Handbills deriding the budget-balancing major purge popped up on campus.

A petition entitled “We want our majors back!” has appeared.

“Concordia College, Moorhead has decided to get rid of the following majors due to ‘low enrollment,'” the petition says — with the words “low enrollment” in derisive quotes.

The majors to be eliminated are: classical studies, classics, Latin, Latin education, French, French education, German, health (but not physical education or exercise science) and a standalone humanities major.

Also, Concordia’s Scandinavian studies concentration will be closed to any new students.

“Concordia is known for it’s [sic] language programs,” the petition swears. “Please, sign this petition to show that these departments matter and lets [sic] see if we can get the administration to realize their mistake.

As of early Tuesday morning, the petition has garnered 242 signatures.

Concordia’s president, William Craft, defends the program cuts. The cuts are necessary, he says, because enrollment at the school has fairly plunged recently. Enrollment is down 600 students since 2010. Also, the school faces a $2.7 million budget deficit.

“What we’ve seen is a marked drop in students interested in electing these programs as majors,” Craft told the Star Tribune.

Craft observed that just 38 students will be affected by the cuts — and 12 of the 38 are on track to graduate in May.

Foreign language classes will still be offered, the school president added. There just won’t be majors available in the languages.

Protesting students remain unconvinced.

“Concordia is really known for how many languages it has offered,” Sydney Gisvold, a Norwegian major and president of Concordia’s Scandinavian Club, told the Star Tribune.

“Learning a second language is really vital,” Gisvold added.

The chairwoman of Concordia’s world languages and cultures department, Mary Rice, said she is also disappointed.

“So much emphasis is going toward science and business that we’re perhaps losing our identity,” Rice lamented to the Minneapolis newspaper. “That, of course, is what those of us in humanities and liberal arts worry about.”

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