UA regents cut state's remaining sociology department

Published: Jun. 9, 2020 at 3:52 PM AKDT
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The state’s university system is set to eliminate or cut nearly 40 programs in an effort to close a budget gap created by ongoing state budget cuts, a decline in student enrollment and the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the programs is the state’s remaining sociology department at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Starting this fall, students will no longer be able to get a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Sociology at UAA.

The program cut will affect four faculty members and 86 students.

Zeynep Kilic, the chair of the sociology department says that cutting the sociology degree will also disproportionately affect students of color, as 45% of its 10-12 graduates every year are minorities.

“It is a program where those students find home, find a voice, they are given tools to understand and take apart and take apart their personal experiences, within the larger systemic forces,” Kilic said.

Students use their degrees to work for non-profits, native corporations and help other industries understand communities.

"If we think that just by educating nurses, business people and engineers that we will have healthy communities, that is a very limited thinking, these extremely, important, valuable occupations also have to interact on a daily basis with these specific social issues that are systemic in nature,” she said.

She says sociology majors are needed now more than ever given the civil rights protests happening across the country.

Jon Tindall moved to Prince of Wales Island last year and recently started taking a sociology class at UAF. He works in the mental health field and was deciding whether to major in sociology.

“There is just such a need here, certainly in our field of interest, we are drawn to people who need help, and that's true of mental and that is true of sociology,” Tindall said.

Tindall shares the same sentiment as Kilic.

“Sociology speaks to the issues that are facing us, both with the pandemic, COVID-19 and with the civil rights issues that are happening, that makes sociology particularly relevant right now,” he said.

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