The school of humanities has to cut $1.8 million out of its operating budget this year. [edit: This post was written in 2012.]

That is over 4.8% of its budget. 

The money—some of it at least—is there, somewhere.

Humanities Gateway was recently refitted with new furniture, as lecturers and staff get laid off. While we certainly do have less money overall, it seems more significant that the money we do have is being mismanaged.

Part of this mismanagement is due to the fact that administration prioritizes quantity over quality when considering funding. They actively structure the budget so that programs and departments are pushed towards having a high student-to-faculty ratio. The administration rewards having large classes and a less personalized education. In other words, their priority is to process more students through the system, not to offer a high-quality education. This emphasis on quantity threatens certain high-quality, albeit smaller, programs such as [you can fill in the blank according to what awesome program you want to emphasize - Women's studies, African Am studies, Asian Am studies, East Asian studies, Comp Lit, etc.] The mismanagement of funds might also lead to the layoff of lecturers, increased class sizes, reduced access to faculty, among other concerns. 

The overall budget process worries us because of its limited vision of what a public university should do. We think that a public university should produce an informed citizenry and strengthen democracy. They think that a public university should train a skilled workforce.

While studying the humanities actually prepares people well for future careers—as part of a workforce—through teaching communication and critical thinking, it is also very important for the health of our democracy. It is through classes offered in the humanities that we can explore the messy, but necessary, problems of democracy and politics. For example, it is in the humanities that we learn about and question: common (and conflicting) histories, communication and interpretation, unequal distributions of power (for example, through racism or sexism), global perspectives, cultural differences, critical thinking, and ethics.

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