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Catholic college college students launch protests after faculty axes majors like math, English, spiritual research

College students at a Catholic liberal arts college in northern Virginia say their issues have been brushed apart by officers who eradicated quite a few majors on the faculty, starting from spiritual research to math.

The cuts by Marymount College, outdoors of Washington, D.C., have led to protests from outraged college students who say the choice has rocked the college’s basis as a Catholic establishment that focuses on humanities.

Many worry that the fallout from the curriculum change will drive away potential college students.

“The general environment of the Marymount neighborhood proper now’s simply sort of useless, and it is very tense,” sophomore politics main Ethan Reed instructed Fox Information Digital. “It’s simply so clear that in each class I am in, there’s an enormous elephant within the room.”

Marymount’s board of trustees drove the ultimate nail within the coffin for 9 majors and one graduate program on Feb. 24, when it unanimously voted 20-0 in help of the plan to finish the levels. The varsity instructed Fox Information Digital in a press release that “this resolution displays not solely our college students’ wants, however our duty to arrange them for the fulfilling, in-demand careers of the longer term.”


Marymount University's decision to cut nine majors and a graduate program have sparked protests.

Marymount College’s resolution to chop 9 majors and a graduate program have sparked protests. (Grace Kapacs)

However Reed mentioned that college students and workers have been solely alerted final month to the plan that can lower bachelor’s levels in theology and spiritual research, philosophy, arithmetic, artwork, historical past, sociology, English, economics and secondary training, in addition to a grasp’s program in English and humanities. College students are nonetheless required to check the topics as a part of the college’s core program however are now not capable of choose such areas of examine as majors.

The plan shortly turned a “actually huge subject” on campus, particularly for these within the humanities division, and college students, alumni and different teams started sending letters to President Irma Becerra urging her to rethink the plan. 

Marymount University President Irma Becerra

Marymount College President Irma Becerra (Getty Photos)

“Chopping parts of the Faculty of Humanities in addition to math and artwork applications can be detrimental to the variety of our scholar physique,” student-government president Ashly Trejo Mejia wrote in a letter to the college’s president. “We worry that eradicating applications will alter the muse and identification Marymount College was constructed on.”


The varsity, nonetheless, has argued that eliminating the majors will not have an effect on Marymount’s mission as Catholic liberal arts faculty.

“Marymount will all the time be devoted to the training of the entire individual,” the college mentioned in a press release previous to the vote to finish the majors.

“Each one among these foundational topics stay a part of our core curriculum, which helps our mission and Catholic identification,” the assertion added. “All College applications will proceed to be grounded within the liberal arts and the Marymount College Board, President and Cupboard stay dedicated to constantly bettering the scholar expertise.”

A spokesperson for the college beforehand instructed Fox Information Digital that Marymount “will reallocate assets from [the eliminated majors] to others that higher serve our college students and mirror their pursuits.” The varsity highlighted that the plan was “not financially pushed” and would “present the College the chance to redeploy assets to raised serve college students and areas of progress.”

College students mentioned the college has been imprecise on the place the cash from the eradicated applications will truly go. The varsity didn’t make clear to Fox Information Digital the place the cash from the eradicated programs might be reallocated when requested. 

“So as to develop as a college and keep our place among the many nation’s finest, Marymount should proceed to innovate and deal with what distinguishes us from our competitors. We should deal with our biggest strengths – the areas which have probably the most potential for progress, convey us distinction and acclaim and provides Marymount a aggressive benefit,” the spokesperson mentioned, including that “it will be irresponsible to maintain applications” with low enrollment and “lack of potential for progress.”

Reed, in addition to fellow sophomore scholar Grace Kapacs, argued that canning the majors not solely weakened the college however might additionally drive potential – and even perhaps present – college students away.

“The very first thing you do once you go to a college is you take a look at these majors they’ve,” Kapacs, a communications main, mentioned. “And also you evaluate it to the opposite colleges you are taking a look at. And you are like, ‘Rattling, that is the one one that does not have English, math. Wait, it does not have English or math? Maintain on. That is bizarre. That is shady. That does not sound like a great establishment.’”

She is asking on Becerra to “rethink” the choice.

Reed defined that he’s not sure if he even needs to remain on the faculty after the announcement.

A building on Marymount University's campus in Arlington, Virginia.

A constructing on Marymount College’s campus in Arlington, Virginia. (Google Maps)

“That is solely my sophomore yr, so I am right here for 2 extra years. I truthfully do not even know if I need to keep right here anymore due to what is going on on. And the blatant disregard for scholar issues although we are the ones which might be maintaining the college up and working,” he mentioned.

A spokesperson for Marymount instructed Fox Information Digital on Wednesday that the college “has and can proceed to work with our college students, and we all the time need to hear their views.”

“A number of data classes are literally being held this week with college students as they’ll have the chance to share their ideas and issues straight with Marymount directors, together with the president and the provost. Final week, a city corridor assembly was additionally held with school and workers,” the spokesperson mentioned when requested concerning the college students’ feedback.

The spokesperson added that the “resolution was not made in a vacuum” and there “was community-wide involvement within the proposal authorised by the board, and it was rooted in knowledge and analysis.”

Considerations over the adjustments have galvanized college students throughout the political spectrum. Liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans gathered forward of the vote in protest final month, asking that the college rethink and take heed to their pleas to maintain the majors.


“We’re indignant as a result of that is a Catholic faculty and the way might you do away with a theology main? And others have been indignant as a result of our colleges [were] constructed on a liberal arts core and it is in our mission assertion,” Kapacs mentioned. “Others have been indignant as a result of they acquired a level within the humanities there and now they’re doing nice issues on the planet, and so they really feel like others are going to overlook out.”

The scholars mentioned many professors are additionally disgruntled with the choice however are largely staying quiet on the difficulty past face-to-face conversations. A number of college students instructed Fox Information Digital they’ve already heard from some professors who’re contemplating packing their luggage and leaving the college over the choice.

The protests and outrage over the choice boils all the way down to the scholars simply wanting their issues to be heard, junior sociology main Jonas Gleiner instructed Fox Information Digital.

“We wish not solely the scholars but additionally the academics to simply have their voices heard and be handled as respectfully as attainable and as in the event that they matter as part of the college to the president, not only a instrument for use,” Gleiner mentioned.


Gleiner believes nearly all of college students on the faculty are sad with the choice however not “sad sufficient to take motion to do something.”

“Our aim now’s to attempt to put strain on the president to make higher decisions sooner or later,” he mentioned.

Kapacs, who describes herself as a passionate scholar activist, mentioned protests in latest weeks have been “to indicate that we help our college and we care” and to indicate the administration precisely who’s standing towards the transfer.

Students protest Marymount University ending nine majors and one graduate program.

College students protest Marymount College ending 9 majors and one graduate program. (Grace Kapacs)

Marymount was based in 1950 initially as a two-year ladies’s Catholic faculty earlier than it expanded to its present college standing with roughly 4,000 enrolled college students by way of its campus situated in Arlington, Virginia.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Arlington instructed Fox Information Digital that the bishop “was knowledgeable of the college’s resolution simply previous to the general public announcement” however that nobody on the faculty requested for his enter.

Bishop Michael Burbidge is entrusted with making certain colleges inside the diocese keep true to their Catholic identification and instruction, however Marymount is an unbiased Catholic faculty, so he “has no authority over its working governance.” Nonetheless, the bishop accepts the college’s last resolution on the majors, in keeping with the spokesperson.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge (Katherine Frey / The Washington Submit by way of Getty Photos / File)

“It’s our understanding that, regardless of not having a significant or minor program for theology, there would nonetheless be required theology lessons within the curriculum,” the diocese mentioned. “Bishop Burbidge will proceed to work with the management of Marymount in issues associated to the Catholic identification of the college.”

For now, the scholars mentioned they’re specializing in ensuring Becerra and the administration hear their issues with another potential proposals – although they could name for her resignation.


“There are among the different scholar leaders which might be making an attempt to look into [calling for Becerra’s resignation] now as a result of, at this level, it is clear that this administration right here shouldn’t be working for the scholars,” Reed mentioned. “They’re working for the cash. They’re working solely for his or her colleagues up there increased up. And it is simply unhappy.”

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