Tomorrow morning, there’s going to be a student-led walk-out at UT in protest of the budget cuts, outlined in Timi’s entry from last week, that are suspiciously targeting Centers that study minority and marginalized groups. Timi makes a great point about how these budget cuts are an affront to the diversity UT promotes. On a personal note, these budget cuts are an omen of the not-so-sunny future I face as an art historian of Latin American art.
Like Timi, I am also a proud product of a minority-studies undergraduate program. As a Latin American Studies major at the University of Chicago I’m not sure what I would’ve done without CLAS (Center for Latin American Studies). Not only was there a plethora of courses across disciplines to choose from, but the diversity among the faculty and students was invaluable in my development as an academic.
I’m a big girl and I understand the bottom line. Trust me, I’ve been in the game long enough to have a response to that question that strikes fear into the heart of any proponent of a humanities-oriented education: what are you going to do with that? The truth is no matter how much time we spend on machines, driving on bridges, and getting heart bypass surgery, a liberal education still matters. Because, in the most fundamental of ways, we still communicate. All the time. Even right now. And moreover, we communicate the same issues and ideas that humanity has tossed around since we were playing with shadows in caves. So philosophy, Latin, and the art of Ancient Rome still matter.
My immediate fear with the proposed budget cuts is that it too is an omen of a not-so-sunny present. First come the most vulnerable Centers of study. Then come foreign languages. Next history. And finally, I become obsolete.