Language Cuts Spur Student Protest

Photo: Protesters march down Sproul Plaza in protest of the decision to cut the budget of the East Asian Language and Cultures Department.
Alan Wong/Staff
Protesters march down Sproul Plaza in protest of the decision to cut the budget of the East Asian Language and Cultures Department.

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Hundreds of UC Berkeley students rallied in Lower Sproul Plaza yesterday in protest against proposed budget cuts to the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures.

The rally was largely coordinated by the Committee to Save Korean Studies, a coalition formed to protest the proposed cuts.

UC Berkeley professors, students and others addressed an attentive crowd at noon yesterday, saying the funding the department currently receives is integral to its survival.

The potential cuts to the department come after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a 10 percent cut to the university, which would then take away approximately $30 to $40 million from UC Berkeley's budget.

If approved, the cuts would potentially reduce Japanese language courses by 40 percent, Chinese language courses by 54 percent and Korean language courses by 66 percent.

As the protest climaxed, the crowd marched from Lower Sproul Plaza to the C.V. Starr East Asian Library, chanting, "Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Asian Languages will not go!"

Coordinators of the rally said they were impressed by the large turnout, especially since finals are approaching.

"The fact that these students would come out at a time when they are so pressed for time, it just speaks volumes about how much this issue matters to them," said Christine Hong, a postdoctoral fellow and core member of the Committee to Save Korean Studies.

UC Berkeley students have been proactive in participating in and organizing the protest efforts.

Junior Shelby Oxenford, who recently joined the Committee to Save Korean Studies, said, "I just found out (about the efforts) on Facebook, went to a meeting and just began to help out as much as possible."

Members of the crowd said they believe every effort contributes to the fight against the proposed cuts.

"Adding one more person on the petition always helps," said senior Albert Oh.

Students say they are working hard to get their voices heard before final decisions regarding funding are made.

"We have the opportunity to be heard-we have to believe we can make a difference," Hong said.


Contact Evelyn Hu at [email protected]

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