Faculty to vote on fate of Russian Studies on Mar. 20

By Diego Ruiz

After months of discussion and debate, Macalester’s faculty are scheduled to vote March 20th on whether or not to discontinue the college’s major and minor in Russian Studies. To keep the Russian Studies program, two-thirds of the voting faculty would need to vote for a motion, introduced by Paul Dosh at February’s faculty meeting, to reject the Education Policy and Governance Committee’s (EPAG) recommendation to discontinue the major and minor. In addition to tenured and tenure-track faculty, other faculty who may vote are full-time visiting professors, faculty who have begun phased retirement and emeritus faculty who have already retired from the college. While the default option for the vote would be a hand raise, paper ballots will likely be requested, said Tom Varberg, a professor of Chemistry and the current Faculty Presiding Officer. Varberg wrote in an email that the plan would be for the faculty to have time to debate the motion, vote and then have the votes tallied at the meeting. However, if the debate runs long, the meeting may automatically adjourn at 1:10. In that case, the vote would be shifted one week later to March 27. Provost Kathleen Murray said in a February interview that she would accept EPAG’s recommendation to discontinue Russian Studies if it were not overturned by the faculty. Varberg wrote, “EPAG has recommended that the college ensure that currently declared Russian majors and minors of sophomore standing or higher will have the opportunity to graduate from Macalester with a Russian major or minor.” Although these students would still receive their degree in Russian, many are organizing to persuade faculty to vote to save the major. On March 19, the day before the climactic faculty meeting, some students intend to make their support for the Russian department visible by wearing Russian-themed costumes and red paper hats with the flags of Russian-speaking countries. “The purpose of this event is to show professors that there is student support for the Russian Department,” said Jacob Rath ’13, who is planning the demonstration. Related Articles Faculty debate, students campaign over fate of Russian EPAG report recommends discontinuing Russian Studies Students, faculty support Russian at town halls Mac to host talks on future of Russian Department Russian Department not worried about cuts