Students protest removal of classes at CSUEB

Jesse Castro,
Staff Writer


Theatre and dance students from Cal State East Bay protested on campus after the announcement that several required courses were no longer going to be offered in the upcoming 2016 spring quarter.

Shortly after the protest on Feb. 4,  Eric Kupers, a tenure track dance professor at CSUEB, received an email that stated due to an anonymous donation and approval from the Dean of the College of Letters and Social Sciences, the department could transfer funds from within another area of the department to the instructional budget; Beginning Ballet, Beginning Hip Hop and Dance History would be available for spring quarter. Kupers does not believe the email was directly related to the protest.

The initial announcement on Jan. 12 informed faculty that Dance History, an African dance class, beginning and intermediate classes for ballet, as well as Hip Hop Dance and Jazz Dance, would be cut from the Spring Quarter course rotation. The theatre & dance department began to discuss what actions could be taken to bring back the cut courses.

“There’s a problem with the value system at the university that’s chipping away at the arts,” said Kupers.

The cuts were made after the administration could not allocate the units requested by the department to restore these classes for spring. These classes, taught by adjunct professors, are often left vulnerable to cuts, because adjunct professors are not guaranteed to teach every quarter, unlike tenure track professors.

“Administration say it’s just for a quarter but it’s difficult to bring a class back once it’s taken out of rotation,” said Kuper. Since 2009, several technique classes like ballroom dancing, breakdancing and Latin salsa, have been unable to return to the rotation of courses after being cut.

Theatre and dance majors are required to take these technique classes to graduate, which poses difficulties when they are not offered in the time that students need them. Many professors are also concerned with the level of comprehensive education that each student receives.

Students for Quality Education, the dance faculty and the dance students coordinated a dance protest in response to the dangers presented by the cuts. The number was choreographed to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” and taught to students in the two days leading up to the protest on Feb. 4.

Protesters raised signs that read “Stop The Budget Cuts!” as the flash mob of students performed the dance on the lawn outside the Student Services and Administration building. As protesters chanted, “Dance saves lives! Dance saves lives!” Haft was happy to see students “full of energy and optimism” throughout the protest.

After the performance, students took the opportunity to voice their opinions about the course cuts before they proceeded to march through the Student Services and Administration building and chant “Save dance!”

Kuper said the cuts to ballet classes this quarter were “a mistake to even allow that to happen.” Kuper noted that the department has many steps to take in their attempt to keep these essential classes for students in the future. According to Kuper, the theatre & dance department intends to reach out to other departments who face similar struggles in the hopes that this event will “spark a larger movement.”