Stop Shrinking Our Language Departments
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I. Uniqueness of Language Departments at Cal
The language program at UCB is unique in its diversity. Since its beginnings in 1897, language instruction at UCB has grown in richness and depth and Berkeley now offers 67 world languages. Among its faculty, there are 15 recipients of the Distinguished Teaching Award, award-winning authors and scholars, including a Nobel-prize winner. The language programs at UCB attest to the university’s long tradition of valuing cultural diversity and of preparing students to contribute to their communities and giving them skills indispensable in today’s globalized world.
II. Language Teaching at Risk
The newly appointed chancellor Carol Christ is implementing budget cuts that endanger the depth and variety of these language programs. Language departments are being threatened on two fronts: (1) language budgets are being slashed (2) the campus administration is shifting costs to language departments which were previously covered by campus administration: benefits, merit increases and staff salary raises.
III. What’s at Stake
This shrinking of the language programs threatens to destroy Cal’s long tradition of supporting diversity, equity and inclusion—values closely related to the core mission of our university as a public institution. For example, in the state of California, where almost 40% of the population is Latino or Hispanic, classes in the Spanish Department have been cut. The same is happening across all language departments. These cuts deprive our students of the opportunity to prepare themselves for the globalized world.
Further jeopardizing the language programs, language instructors at Cal are the lowest paid within the entire UC system. Cal has been the last to adjust salaries for language lecturers. In Spring 2016, UC-AFT negotiated a new contract to bring the lecturers into parity with other UC campuses. Now the administration is refusing to honor the contract that it signed a year ago.
IV. Our Demands
1. That the University reinvest in the language departments in order to maintain its commitment to diversity and excellence in language instruction.
2. That the University reject the proposed minimum student enrollment requirements to determine workload, so that all courses are weighted at 40%.
3. That the University honor the terms of the contract signed in 2016 and pay both full- and part-time UCB language lecturers, in parity with other campuses.
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