More than 2,000 people have signed a petition opposing proposed cuts to humanities programs within the State University of New York at Stony Brook’s College of Arts and Sciences to narrow a $1.5 million budget gap. Possible changes include combining the departments of European languages, Hispanic languages, and cultural studies and comparative literature into a single department; suspending doctoral programs in Hispanic languages and cultural studies and comparative literature; and suspending undergraduate majors in comparative literature, cinema and cultural studies, and theater arts. The plan was announced earlier this month.
“This decision to suspend undergraduate majors [and] Ph.D. programs and merge departments without consulting the faculty and students affected is an attack on the humanities and the arts,” reads the petition started by a Beth Tsai, a Ph.D. candidate in cultural studies. It defends the threatened programs as successful in terms of student outcomes and essential to the university’s diversity efforts and overall mission.
Michael Bernstein, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said in an emailed statement that Stony Brook is "looking at all aspects of the university in an extremely challenging budget environment. That said, no final decisions have been made on any program changes at this time. Should changes be made to programmatic offerings, the university ensures that all current students will be able to complete the course of study in which they are enrolled."