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College should make more effort to continue funding Institute for Civic Leadership

I was very captivated by the article published in last week’s paper about the cancellation of the Chinese language courses. It left me wondering why you didn’t mention the Arabic program’s similar plight. However, as a student who was accepted to next year’s Institute for Civic Leadership program (ICL), I’ve been shocked to learn that so few people did not know that it, too, has been canceled. It rips the very fabric of the Mills College mission – to educate women to follow their own path, and to support women leaders in their field of study.

The ICL program has been running for several years and supports a select group of applicants through an academic track focused on civic leadership, social justice and developing the unique activism goals of each participant. Many of the students who enroll in ICL are actively working in extra-curricular social justice movements, and are able to magnify the efficacy in their work through academic exploration in the ICL curriculum.

Some of us had to alter our entire Mills Academic Plan in order to schedule in the ICL courseload, and its closure now creates problems for our future schedules. I, for one, have worked it into my college major, and now have to rework my entire proposal. Other students look to ICL as the only way that they can effectively combine their civic engagement work outside of school into their class schedule, so that they don’t have to drop out.

I was both devastated by the Provost’s letter explaining this budgetary decision and angered that the College would cancel a program that stands for the paramount importance of women’s leadership, of which Mills claims to be so supportive. The students who were accepted to the program were contacted by the Provost one week after receiving their acceptance letters and told that the program was being canceled.

I met with the Provost of the Faculty a few days later, and asked her, “How can Mills afford NOT to offer the ICL program?” She told me that they just couldn’t find funding for it. Well, I for one, and many of the ICL students-to-be, believe that they haven’t tried hard enough. And when I attended the groundbreaking ceremony of the new Masters of Business building, I started to realize where all that money is going.

I want to know how much a ground-breaking ceremony like this costs, let alone the construction of a new building, and ask: How come there aren’t more students speaking up about the closure of academic programs in the undergraduate division-the foundation of this institution-and demanding that the administration work harder to find the funds to keep undergraduate programs running?

How come they can spend thousands of dollars on a one-day party, but when it comes to a semester long program, which probably costs the same amount of dollars to operate, they choose the former?