University Policy Threatening the Future of MESALC Departments Discussed at StudCo Meeting: “The Hypocrisy of This is Unreal”

Over 50 students attended tonight’s Student Council meeting to discuss the recently-enacted policy threatening courses with low enrollment (seven students or less). The Student Member of the Board of Visitors maintained that the policy will “improve the educational quality that this college is able to offer.”

However, students and faculty are concerned about the future of courses, particularly in the Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures (MESALC) department. A number of students who attended tonight’s meeting protested against the policy, and warned of department collapse.

First-year Omeed Faegh believes that MESALC courses are particularly valuable given today’s political climate.

“It’s more important now than ever to keep the department healthy and alive,” he said.

“The [policy] would cripple the already struggling department.”

Transfer student Katherine Weyback criticized UVa administrators for their cryptic communication, which is contributing to the anxiety of professors and students.

“Nobody knows about this – the only information we’ve gotten so far is trickling down from professors and even they seem to be getting a different answer from the Deans every hour. Our status as supposedly one of the premier institutions of higher education in the US compels us to inspire interest in fields crucial to global involvement and not suppress it. This is extremely upsetting to me as a student especially amidst all the recent turmoil in Charlottesville, amidst all the cookie cutter emails from the University about our ‘values of diversity.’ The hypocrisy of this is…unreal.”

Fourth-year Wes Gobar fears the policy gives administrators too much power over University curricula.

“I’m really concerned that this policy opens the door to greater administrative control over what constitutes sufficient pedagogical value. Every administrator from Teresa Sullivan to Dean Groves will tell you that this university is dedicated to diversity, but we cannot claim to be dedicated [to] diversity if we put in place these kinds of policies that endanger our most diverse professors and departments.”

Fourth-year Attiya Latif urged Student Council to not only reject the policy, but to also look into how MESALC and similar departments can be better supported.

“We need departments like this. We need nuance in a time when nuance isn’t given to us in a lot of our…politics classes where topics about the Middle East are boiled down to really easy-to-swallow narratives that don’t necessarily tell the truth.”


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