As we highlighted on the blog earlier this fall, the State University of New York at Albany decided this year to axe nearly all its foreign language offerings—perhaps the most severe cutback to university foreign language efforts since the 2008 fiscal downturn.
The school’s language programs were just one casualty of the school’s $640 million budget shortfall however, it’s not just the 2,000-plus students affected by the cuts who aren’t taking the decision lightly.
Nearly 14,000 people from 37 countries—many in Europe, Asia and the Pacific as well as U.S. states nationwide—have signed an online position in attempt to save the French, Russian and Italian programs slated for closure. The statement reads:
“Not only are we concerned for our colleagues at SUNY Albany, whom we know to be dedicated professionals and committed to their students, but we are also gravely disturbed by the irrevocable damage this would do to SUNY Albany’s reputation and the students at SUNY Albany, to their opportunities, and to their ability to succeed in our global environment… As a university representing a large section of New York State’s population, SUNY Albany has an obligation to prepare its students for our global environments, and this naturally includes the ability to speak and understand foreign languages. ”
The sentiments will hopefully get the attention of this doctoral university that supposedly prides itself on “international vision.”
The petition cites 500 million French speakers worldwide and the fact that the language is one of the major tongues of international trade and business, and the European Union. It also notes Russian’s classification as a “critical need” language by the U.S. government.
We don’t need convincing—our own CEO has already signed the petition. Please voice your support for not just SUNY’s programs, but for foreign language learning in all academic institutions by joining us at http://petitiononline.com/SUNY.