By Tira Mercadante || Layout Assistant
Some of you may have heard rumors about F&M cutting certain language programs and professors being laid off or not having their contracts renewed. In reality, F&M is adjusting to current times with the COVID-19 pandemic completely changing everyone’s lives: A smaller incoming class means needing to be more financially efficient. Here are some of the facts:
- Attrition plays a significant role in F&M’s faculty. The student-faculty ratio will be affected with the ratio becoming 8:1 instead of the current 9:1.
- The Japanese language classes past 201 will no longer be offered: Instead of regular classes such as Introduction to Japanese Popular Culture (221), there will now be tutorials, combined classes, and/or independent study made available for students who wish to continue pursuing the language.
- The language requirement will not be changed (this could be beneficial or unfortunate depending on who you are).
- The Ancient Greek classes, part of the Classics Studies, will be cut when the professor goes on sabbatical.
- Classes now cannot be smaller than 9 students. Because of this, plans are being made to combine classes and make more of them cross-sectional. This could be exciting as students will have an interdisciplinary perspective.
Changes like these raise the question: how will these factors change the academics at Franklin & Marshall? It is not only the current students and professors who will be affected by this, but future students and faculty as well. Some say that these changes should have been implemented a long time ago. Others, who have not been made aware of these alterations until recently, are still in shock. Sophomore Jackie Guo has expressed her concerns about this dilemma. Jackie says, “The F&M Japanese language department…made me fall in love even more with learning the language. The department really brings together a whole community of students and makes learning a language extremely fun and interesting. To many of us, the Japanese department isn’t just another academic department, but a home.” Sophomore Ryan Potts has met many friends through the Japanese Tea Hours and movie nights that the department hosts. Ryan has also graciously shared his opinions with me, stating that “While plans for a Japanese minor are still possible for me and many others, unfortunately this is the end for many of us in terms of becoming better Japanese speakers, readers, and writers through a college education. You already couldn’t major in Japanese, just a joint or a minor in Asian Area studies. ” What I have learned from hearing various sides of the story is that people will be affected by these decisions differently and that we have to be open to hearing their perspectives.
On the flip side, Professor Redmann, Chair of the Language Studies Council and Professor of German, has kept a rather optimistic outlook on this predicament. With concerns regarding maintaining the liberal arts curriculum and academic diversity, Professor Redmann says not to worry. Personally, I have never taken a German course here, but I could see the dedication and true passion in her eyes and voice when we talked. Professors such as Redmann are great role models and resources as they are one of the main reasons that uphold the liberal arts education here. The support system we have from the professors is something to continue looking forward to.
As of now, it does not seem that F&M will make an official statement regarding these changes. We all face uncertainty and ambiguity in these unpredictable and unprecedented times. We get it, change is inevitable. It only leaves me wondering, how will the rest of F&M react?
Sophomore Tira Mercadante is a layout assistant. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.