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SRAS NEWS  / OPEN LETTER TO THE ADMINISTRATION OF SUNY-ALBANY
02.11.2010


November 2, 2010

To the administration of SUNY-Albany,
Officials and Representatives of the Great State of New York,
and all others whom it may concern,

The following petition was written by representatives of the Modern Languages and Literatures Department of Union College, Schenectady, New York. It was posted to a listserve, the Slavic and East European Languages and Literatures List (SEELANGS), with the suggestion that others use it to send similar letters to the administration of SUNY-Albany.

Representatives of The School of Russian and Asian Studies (SRAS) suggested that it be signed electronically, opened to the general public, and sent as a single letter coordinated by representatives of Union College, SRAS, and SUNY-Albany. The following document, with over 13,000 signatures and 75 additional comments, is the result. The online petition is located here and continues to draw signatures.

We urge you to read this document and consider each signature. These are not only educators supporting educators, these are your students and your alumni supporting your university. These are the business people, professionals, and government representatives who will hire and work alongside your graduates as they enter our rapidly globalizing workforce.

To compete in today's world, students must think creatively and critically. A knowledge of the foundations of western civilization and of logical processes, as taught by the classics, is needed. The ability to analyze personal behavior and social issues and to express thoughts clearly and creatively, as taught by theater, is fundamental. The realization that not all people think alike is crucial – and is without doubt taught best by the study of languages. (This petition was drafted before the authors knew of additional cuts planned to theater and the classics.)

Developing a creative, critical, and well-informed citizenry is the historical responsibility of a university. Cutting a major destroys the student base that forms the foundation of a department's activity. 

This should be an opportunity for you to reach out to students, alumni, and staff to generate creative ideas to fix the university budget and to secure the support of the community and state legislature. This should be an educational opportunity for students to learn how to solve problems. Additionally, treating this as such an opportunity would call attention to these critical programs and encourage students to enroll.

This should be an opportunity for growth – and not a reason for your students, alumni, and community to question the "U" in SUNY.

 

Josh Wilson
Asst. Director,
The School of Russian and Asian Studies