Budget cuts lead to reduction of classes

Due to budget cuts in the CSU system, CSUN has been forced to tighten the ropes on spending and reduce the number of classes offered.

Julie Ritchie, senior liberal studies major, has experienced this reality firsthand. In Spring 2004, the capoeira class she and a group of students helped start in the Leisure Studies and Recreation Department was terminated due to departmental budget cuts.

“A lot of people talk about how there’s not a lot of community at CSUN,” Ritchie said. “But I feel like I found a whole community through the capoeira class.”

Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art, which incorporates dancing, martial arts moves, Portuguese singing, and indigenous Brazilian instruments. The art encourages fellowship and association, characteristics that Ritchie said attracted her to the sport.

“People who joined (the class) gained a sense of community,” Ritchie said.

The class did well for two years, from the Fall 2002 semester until Spring 2004, said Xingu, instructor of the capoeira class.

Xingu, a Portuguese name given to him after he joined the capoeira group, said that each semester, about 20 to 25 students would register for the class.

Ritchie said the capoeira class was even given an award by the Leisure Studies and Recreation Department because the class increased attendance in the department.

Awards and high student turnout were not enough to save the class.

“Due to budget limitations, (the capoeira class) had to be temporarily removed from class offerings,” said Craig Finney, chair of the Leisure Studies and Recreation Department. “I recognize there was a great interest in the class, but the department had to reduce its expenses.”

During the 2004-05 school year, the Leisure Studies and Recreation Department has had to decrease its spending by $110,000, Finney said.

In order to accommodate the budget cuts, the department had to eliminate six courses. The capoeira class was one of them.

By the 2005-06 school year, the department will have to reduce expenses by another $300,000, Finney said.

“Additional classes will have to be eliminated,” Finney said.

Finney said he anticipates that another four classes will be cut, including one section each of Leisure and Society 270, Recreation and the Natural Environment 251, and Women and Leisure 330.

“Not only are students losing out because of the reduction of classes, but because we are losing faculty (due to the budget cuts),” Finney said.

The cuts are part of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan to help California’s economy by reducing the CSU’s budget by $240 million. Due to the budget reduction, CSUN alone may lose $400,000, Finney said.

“This is money that will not be given back to us, even if the California economy turns around,” he said.

Trying to operate a department with the same quality of classes and faculty, but with drastically less money, can be difficult, Finney said.

“The whole university is suffering,” he said.

Ritchie and the other members of the Capoeira Club on campus have been passing around petitions to reinstate the capoeira class. They also have letters of recommendation from faculty in the Leisure Studies and Recreation Department, which they said they will attempt to present to a committee to try to reinstate the class.

“One would always hope (we get these classes back),” Finney said. “I hope (that) when budget levels are restored, they can be reinstated.”