Budget Cuts: Balancing Need to Offer Mandatory R&C Courses and Heed to Lowered Funding

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The English department offers each year a vital number of Reading and Composition courses required by most UC Berkeley programs, including the College of Letters & Sciences and the College of Engineering, for the diploma. Each year roughly one thousand undergraduates, of majors ranging from the humanities to the life sciences and beyond, enroll in the English department's R&C courses (i.e. R1A and R1B). These courses teach skills in critical thinking and composition that are essential to an undergraduate's education. Alarmingly, in response to statewide cuts to public education, the UC Board of Regents is preparing to cut drastically the funds that support these courses, a move that will certainly bring harmful and far-ranging consequences. We need your help immediately.

Berkeley's English department has perennially been one of the most esteemed in the nation, with first-rate professors, graduate students and undergraduates. Cuts are sure to harm the department and directly burden the Berkeley community.

Most immediately, the R&C courses already suffer from over-enrollment; already students struggle to obtain the prerequisites needed to graduate because the number wishing to enroll in the English department's R&C courses exceeds the number we can actually admit. When the university forces these courses to be cut by as much as 25 percent, many undergraduates will simply not be able to graduate. By crippling one of the most substantial R&C resources and not planning to add any in other departments, the university will be overwhelmingly unable to provide sections for courses that it requires students to take. Undergraduates must face the possibility of being forced to remain in school for an additional year at a time when the cost of education is growing well beyond the rate of inflation, when tuition, fees and living costs are on the rise. The cuts to the English department alone will prevent more than 250 students from meeting the R&C requirement next year. Moreover, dozens of advanced graduate students, many supporting families, are set to lose teaching stipends, fee remissions and health insurance-this at a time of recession when the university is raising tuition and fees.

Please help us tell the UC regents that their plan is unfair to Berkeley undergraduates who rely on the English department's R&C courses to graduate. Let them know that drastically cutting already impacted required courses is unreasonable, untenable and irresponsible. And please help us address the root of the problem by letting the state legislature know that statewide cuts to public education are unacceptable.

We encourage students to contact the UC Regents, UC Chancellor, UC President, Letters & Sciences Dean, and state legislators: www.berkeley.edu, http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html.

Kea Anderson is a R&C course instructor. Reply to [email protected]

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