Students met with provost and dean of students, John Brabson, in his office last Wednesday where they raised concerns about possible cuts in the modern languages department and how they could make a difference.
More than 10 students convened in the office for half an hour, making him late for his next appointment.
Although not a modern languages major, junior Sunshine Ludder felt it was important to attend the meeting in order to let Brabson know how she felt about the effect possible cuts in the modern languages department would have at Mills.
“I felt like it was productive in the sense that it was the first meeting, and I do feel like we got heard. Everyone at the table was very articulate, I felt that people spoke well and spoke out about a variety of different things,” she said.
However, some of the students felt that Brabson did not respond to their comments with any useful information, and instead gave them many mixed signals.
Senior Gina Kim said, “he used a lot of big words, trying to confuse us. He talked about hard working Americans, and the economy and a lot of far-reaching issues.”
All students were in agreement that requests for student involvement were brushed off.
“He kept reminding us that no decisions were made, so we shouldn’t get too caught up,”said Ludder.
“But, we kept saying that this is why we’re interested. We were demanding that we wanted to be involved before decisions were implemented, and he definitely wasn’t like jump right in,” she said.
According to senior Emille Conrad, Brabson’s reply to students’ interest in becoming involved was that they use committees to have their voices heard.
“He told us as students we had to go talk to the committees. But we don’t even know who these people are, regardless if it will make a difference,” Conrad said.
Students were referred by Brabson to speak to the faculty executive committee and its subcommittees, the promotion and tenure committee, the planning and budgeting committee, as well as the divisional deans, and the president, said Ludder.
Brabson says he does expect students to speak out concerning possible cuts, but is unsure about the effect that they would have.
“We certainly want to incorporate student concern,” he said.
“I’ve had visits from students and talked with ASMC president but I don’t have a mechanism for their direct involvement.”
However, according to Brinda Mehta, professor of French studies, the committees that students were referred to, won’t be helpful to students, because they “don’t know about what’s going on.”
Brabson added, “Anywhere we make cuts there will be students who question how they can get the degree they envisioned of acquiring here at Mills and unfortunately I don’t have a positive response at the moment.”