Staff Editorial: Faculty, vote to preserve Russian Studies

By Mac Weekly Staff

We have avoided taking a position on the Russian Studies debate until now. However, after considering perspectives from the many sides of this issue, we editors have come to a consensus: now is not the time to discontinue Russian. We respect how difficult EPAG’s job was in considering this issue, and think they went to great lengths to solicit student and faculty feedback. Additionally, we recognize that it is important to be able to subtract from the curriculum so that programs can be strengthened or added. Of course, it is more difficult to advocate shuddering a department than to support it staying open. But we believe that the Russian Studies major and minor should not be eliminated from the curriculum at this point, for two principle reasons. First, data in EPAG’s report recommending discontinuance reveal that it is an exceptional program in comparison to other schools’ Russian program. Ours has a higher number of students per faculty compared with other schools – a sign that this is an exceptional program that we should preserve. Second, many of us are in majors with much higher student-to-faculty ratios than Russian, and our experiences do not support the idea that it is necessary to cut Russian in order to improve student experiences in other departments. By and large, we do not feel our departments need extra lines – even a Macalester department with a relatively high student to faculty ratio can still provide ample advising and mentoring. We implore the faculty to vote to overturn EPAG’s recommendation at March’s meeting. And we hope faculty and students continue to engage in robust debate about the role of Russian Studies in conversations on campus and in our pages.