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YOUNGSTOWN – When Youngstown State University students Jenna DeLuca and Mark Pompeo explain why they feel the Italian curriculum shouldn’t be eliminated, their reasons extend beyond campus, to both in time and in distance.

“It’s a legacy. YSU must reflect the values ​​of the community, ”said Pompeo, president of the Italian club YSU.

He and DeLuca were among about 40 students, faculty, alumni and others who took part in a peaceful rally on campus Thursday morning to call on the administration to stop making what they see as harmful cuts. and draconian in university departments as a cost-saving strategy.

The rally took place concurrently with the YSU’s quarterly board meeting on Thursday.

Leading the hour-long protest was the YSU-Ohio Education Association faculty union, which criticized the administration’s decision to cut 26 programs – although the YSU is now financially sound.

DeLuca and Pompeo added that the Mahoning Valley has been home to many Italian immigrants for generations, so the suppression of Italian education could hurt the maintenance of many traditions. Plus, if such programs stop, they may not be replaced, said Pompeo, who specializes in human resources with a minor in Italian.

DeLuca, an Italian major whose family moved to the United States from Italy about 100 years ago, said Italian heritage is also a big part of Youngstown’s identity and backbone.

“Maybe I should go to another college,” said Mary Dippolito, a sophomore major in computer science, referring to the Northeast Ohio Masters of Fine Arts program she was studying for. ‘intention to apply, but who is on the chopping block.

YSU-OEA spokesperson Mark Vopat said the cuts reflect “misplaced priorities” and the administration should reconsider its approach. He particularly criticized plans to remove the Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies and the Center for Islamic Studies, saying such a move could come at a time of heightened anti-Semitism in the United States. he added.

Vopat also expressed concern about the possibility of cuts in the number of full-time teachers in January. Over time, YSU could become something akin to a community college, he continued.

He and others are also critical of what they believe to be the administration’s lopsided and short-sighted approach to cutting back on needed programs while allowing the athletics budget to remain intact.

“The administration should know that the YSU community does not agree with cutting academics, cutting programs, and firing faculty, especially when the administration refuses to audit or save money within from one of the university’s non-academic units, ”Susan Clutter, President of YSU-OEA. said in a statement.

At the board meeting, John R. Jakubek, chairman of the board, said the university is optimizing its academic portfolio and the board is supporting the administration which has had to make a series of decisions. difficult based mainly on declining enrollment. .

YSU’s enrollment is 11,298, down 1,398 students, or 11%, from three years ago.

He also encouraged the administration to continue communicating effectively with faculty and students, adding that YSU’s goal is “to attract students, to make sure they succeed and stay here.”

Ron Cole, spokesperson for YSU, explained that his national accreditation agency had asked the university to conduct a thorough and comprehensive review of the more than 140 programs to better determine which of the five categories they should be placed in. .

After the review, which was attended by professors, deans, department heads, administrative officials and others, the programs that were likely to be eliminated were identified. This information was shared with the YSU community before any decision was made, Cole explained.

“The harsh reality is that we have problems with registration, which leads to financial problems,” he said.

Cole added that he supported the right of protesters to voice their feelings about the decisions of the board.

Also at the meeting, YSU passed a resolution to update its anti-hazing policy, which is aligned with a new state anti-hazing law.

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