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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Students protest cuts to Classics Department — cuts that UB says aren't happening

Classics students say they’ve been unable to sign up for major-required classes this fall

<p>Approximately 40 students staged a sit-down protest in response to rumors that UB was cutting funding for the department.</p>

Approximately 40 students staged a sit-down protest in response to rumors that UB was cutting funding for the department.

Approximately 40 students staged a sit-down protest Wednesday afternoon in an Academic Center classroom in the Classics Department in response to rumors that the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) plans to gut funding for the department.

A CAS spokesperson denied these claims, stating that “no cuts in Classics will be made” and that there is only a “pause on recruiting for one Ph.D. line that is currently vacant.”

The protest follows registration issues with major-required classes on Schedule Builder for fall 2024. As of Wednesday afternoon, undergraduates were unable to register for 300- and 400-level classics classes, including Ancient Greek and Latin. Graduate and Ph.D. students could not access any of the core courses.

“We have students who are one semester away from graduating and literally cannot take any 300- or 400-level [classics] classes,” Jamie Kottakis, president of the Classics Club and a sophomore classics and political science major, said. “We literally have no idea what our options are.”

On Wednesday evening, after the protest ended, UB restored LAT 443/CL 543, “Reading Latin Literature.” Tina Bekkali-Poio, president of the Classics Graduate Students Association (CGSA), told The Spectrum in an email that the course's restoration “does not change our stance and opinion.”  

“The dubiousness of the situation is why the students in our department mobilized today, and why we will continue to mobilize,” Bekkali-Poio, a Ph.D. student in Mediterranean archaeology, said. 

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Protestors said they believed that a departmental hiring freeze would start in the fall. A UB spokesperson said there was only a pause on recruiting for one currently vacant Ph.D. line. 

Protestors said they had received emails from classics faculty stating that a departmental hiring freeze would start in the fall. They declined to share those emails with The Spectrum for the time being, citing the need to keep faculty members anonymous. 

“We know what the university will say when this happens,” Bekkali-Poio said. “We know that the university will blame low enrollment. They will blame the budget. They will blame the deficit. We know that they will blame the attrition rates… [But] you [UB] should not put the blame on the students because of your inability to foster enrollment and your inability to manage the budget.”

CGSA, which organized the protest, speculates that the defunding of the Classics Department is a warning sign for the future of all SUNY humanities programs, not just UB.

“A lot of us are just tired,” Charles Hill, a Ph.D. student in the Classics Department, said. “It’s a lot of frustration.”

Several police officers stood outside the protest in the halls of the Ellicott Complex. 

CGSA is planning another protest for after spring break.

UB's Classics Department is the only one in the SUNY system, according to the department's website

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include additional information about UB's Classics Department. 

Lauren Montagne contributed to the reporting of this article.

Ricardo Castillo is the senior sports editor and can be reached at ricardo.castillo@ubspectrum.com

Mylien Lai is an assistant arts editor and can be reached at mylien.lai@ubspectrum.com 

Henry Daley is an assistant sports editor and can be reached at henry.daley@ubspectrum.com 

Xiola Bagwell is a copy editor and can be reached at xiola.bagwell@ubspectrum.com  


HENRY DALEY
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Henry Daley is an assistant sports editor at The Spectrum. His work has featured on other platforms such as Medium and Last Word on Sports. Outside of the newspaper, he enjoys running and watching sports (when he’s not writing about them). 


XIOLA BAGWELL


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Xiola Bagwell is a copy editor at The Spectrum. She enjoys reading and writing fantasy/romance novels, watching lighthearted movies and spending time with her friends and family. Xiola is a linguistics major, minoring in Spanish. 


MYLIEN LAI
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Mylien Lai is an assistant arts editor at The Spectrum. Outside of getting lost in Buffalo, she enjoys practicing the piano and being a bean plant mom. She can be found at @my_my_my_myliennnn on Instagram. 

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