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

College students at a Catholic liberal arts college in northern Virginia say their considerations have been brushed apart by officers who eradicated quite a few majors on the college, 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 concern that the fallout from the curriculum change will drive away potential college students.

“The general environment of the Marymount group proper now’s simply form of lifeless, and it’s extremely tense,” sophomore politics main Ethan Reed advised 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 assist of the plan to finish the levels. The college advised Fox Information Digital in an announcement that “this choice displays not solely our college students’ wants, however our accountability to arrange them for the fulfilling, in-demand careers of the long run.”


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

However Reed stated that college students and employees have been solely alerted final month to the plan that may reduce bachelor’s levels in theology and non secular 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 review the topics as a part of the college’s core program however are not capable of choose such areas of research as majors.

The plan shortly grew to become a “actually large matter” 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)

“Slicing 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 concern that eradicating applications will alter the muse and identification Marymount College was constructed on.”


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

“Marymount will at all times be devoted to the training of the entire individual,” the college stated in an announcement previous to the vote to finish the majors.

“Each considered one of 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 enhancing the scholar expertise.”

A spokesperson for the college beforehand advised Fox Information Digital that Marymount “will reallocate assets from [the eliminated majors] to others that higher serve our college students and replicate their pursuits.” The college 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 development.”

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

“With the intention to develop as a college and preserve our place among the many nation’s finest, Marymount should proceed to innovate and give attention to what distinguishes us from our competitors. We should give attention to our biggest strengths – the areas which have probably the most potential for development, carry us distinction and acclaim and provides Marymount a aggressive benefit,” the spokesperson stated, including that “it could be irresponsible to maintain applications” with low enrollment and “lack of potential for development.”

Reed, in addition to fellow sophomore scholar Grace Kapacs, argued that canning the majors not solely weakened the college however may additionally drive potential – and maybe even 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, stated. “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 an excellent establishment.’”

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

Reed defined that he’s uncertain if he even desires to remain on the college 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 actually 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 considerations regardless that we are the ones which are preserving the college up and operating,” he stated.

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

“A number of data periods are literally being held this week with college students as they are going to have the chance to share their ideas and considerations immediately with Marymount directors, together with the president and the provost. Final week, a city corridor assembly was additionally held with school and employees,” the spokesperson stated when requested concerning the college students’ feedback.

The spokesperson added that the “choice 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 modifications 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 hearken to their pleas to maintain the majors.


“We’re indignant as a result of that is a Catholic college and the way may you eliminate 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 stated. “Others have been indignant as a result of they received a level within the humanities there and now they’re doing nice issues on the earth, and so they really feel like others are going to overlook out.”

The scholars stated many professors are additionally disgruntled with the choice however are largely staying quiet on the problem past face-to-face conversations. A number of college students advised 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 right down to the scholars simply wanting their considerations to be heard, junior sociology main Jonas Gleiner advised Fox Information Digital.

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


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

“Our purpose now’s to attempt to put strain on the president to make higher selections sooner or later,” he stated.

Kapacs, who describes herself as a passionate scholar activist, stated protests in latest weeks have been “to indicate that we assist our faculty and we care” and to indicate the administration precisely who’s standing in opposition to 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 college earlier than it expanded to its present college standing with roughly 4,000 enrolled college students by way of its campus positioned in Arlington, Virginia.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Arlington advised Fox Information Digital that the bishop “was knowledgeable of the college’s choice simply previous to the general public announcement” however that nobody on the college 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 impartial Catholic college, so he “has no authority over its working governance.” Nonetheless, the bishop accepts the college’s remaining choice on the majors, based on the spokesperson.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge (Katherine Frey / The Washington Publish through Getty Photos / File)

“It’s our understanding that, regardless of not having a serious or minor program for theology, there would nonetheless be required theology lessons within the curriculum,” the diocese stated. “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 stated they’re specializing in ensuring Becerra and the administration hear their considerations with every other potential proposals – although they may name for her resignation.


“There are a number of the different scholar leaders which are 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 stated. “They’re working for the cash. They’re working solely for his or her colleagues up there greater up. And it is simply unhappy.”

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