Budget Crisis Prompts Berkeley to Halve Its Offerings in East Asian Studies

May 08, 2008

The California budget crisis has taken a toll on the University of California at Berkeley’s department of East Asian languages and cultures, which has announced that this fall it will eliminate classes for 1,500 students to make up for an unexpected financial shortfall.

The cuts are a response to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed state budget, which would reduce spending on Berkeley by $30-million to $40-million, the Daily Californian reported. The university has asked several academic departments to make cuts to courses and faculty members to close the gap, but hardest hit will be departments that employ many adjunct lecturers and graduate-student instructors.

As a result, the East Asian department, which expects to lose $300,000 in support, will cut 40 percent of its courses in Japanese, 54 percent of those in Chinese, and 66 percent of those in Korean. It will also not renew contracts for 13 lecturers. According to a notice on its Web site, the department will restrict enrollment in its courses to students in the College of Letters & Science.

The English department, which faces a $400,000 cut, has appealed to faculty members with endowed chairs to donate a portion of their private research grants to the department.

Berkeley students have organized an afternoon rally today to protest cuts in the East Asian language programs. An online petition asking university administrators to reconsider the cuts and to provide emergency funds for East Asian languages has collected 900 signatures so far. —Paula Wasley