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The Communicator NEWS & POLITICS

Stuck in Purgatory: Trapped in the Path of USAP

Written by: Mikaela ConleyNovember 10, 2016

Since the recommendations to eliminate, suspend or restructure programs were announced in October, people have been worrying about many different things.

Monica Young, IPFW alumna and secretary for the Women’s Studies Program, is mainly concerned about what job she is going to have come January. The secretary position is being dissolved in December as a direct consequence of the USAP recommendations.

“That’s one of the few things that has been clear — that I am definitely not going to have a job,” she said.

Young said the students and program faculty and staff have been kept in the dark.

Young received multiple crying, panicking students in her office following the release of the recommendations.

“It’s just really heartbreaking to see students who thought they knew where they were going and what they were doing with their future have to sort of panic to figure out what happens next,” she said.

At this point no students can be enrolled in the major. However, the programs are awaiting another announcement  about what will happen next for the students that is supposed to happen Nov. 15.

The recommendations have also caused other problems for the program. Young noted that things have been vandalized outside the office, and people walking by have said inappropriate things.

“I think that people who have ideological problems with Women’s Studies and what we do and what we stand for feel empowered by the institution’s blatant disregard for the value of the program,” Young said.

Young, however, is also worried about the community. Without IPFW as an opportunity for students looking for a close to home, comprehensive university, kids growing up in Fort Wayne are going to have fewer opportunities, she said.

“Brain drain” is also a major concern. If the liberal arts departments are closed, the community will feel a lack of programming coming out of the campus as a large majority of programs came from programs like Women’s Studies, she said.

“As somebody who grew up in Fort Wayne knowing that IPFW was here for me, somebody that graduated from IPFW, and then chose to work for IPFW, I obviously  love this school; I think it serves a really important purpose in our community.”

However, Young said she is still critical of things going on.

The rug has been pulled out from underneath studentsl.Young said.

“I work in an office that is supposed to be helping them and I don’t have any answers,” she said.

Suin Roberts, associate professor of German also lacks answers.

Roberts, who runs the program with her husband, Lee Roberts, said the administration repeatedly rejected their requests for another limited term lecturer so they could grow their program, only to be told they were being cut because the program was not big enough.

“We don’t have many students; we are a very small program. But the students we do have seem to do very well,” she said.

Two different students from different years received the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Program) award.

“I think overall, I feel like if we are calling ourselves a comprehensive university there needs to be room for small programs who contribute to the mission,” Roberts said, explaining that German is essential to the mission and the internationalization of the curriculum.

Roberts said the program was told that students who were enrolled as German majors before the cutoff date are allowed to finish their degrees. However, she does not know if they are going to be able to keep the numbers to offer the courses that those students would need, or if they would be offered as independent studies, which is not ideal for students, she said.

Roberts also noted the cuts were presented as recommendations. Though enrollment was suspended right away.

“Is there still room to negotiate or is it implemented? It seems to me like its implement because there’s no admission to these programs,” she said.

Roberts also said she was concerned about the amount of programming in the community that will be cut short and eliminated.

The program that usually participated in Germanfest and translated documents for people in the community will be no more.

“Considering the German heritage of this town, it’s a shame,” she said.

With the program suspended, there will be no place in Fort Wayne where students can study for a bachelor’s degree in German.

Roberts said she feels as if her professional career has lost purpose since she has worked hard to earn her degrees, grow the program with Lee, and get tenured, only to have it all fall apart. Neither know what their jobs will look like in just two months.

“It’s horrible; it’s devastating,” she said. “We are very proud of this program … It’s been running very efficiently just the two of us … it’s been our baby.”