The CSUF administration decided to axe the American Language Program and lay off 14 faculty members by the end of May, deeming the program financially unsustainable and making CSUF one of the the few CSUs without an intensive language program.
“I know (President Fram Virjee) is new to this university and so he really doesn’t know our history, but he has the power to give this program another year,” said ALP faculty member Carolyn Dupaquier.
In an April 4 interview, Virjee said the vast majority of ALP students have “no interest” in enrolling at CSUF after finishing the program.
“These are not CSUF students,” Virjee said. “This isn’t a Cal State Fullerton program.”
Out of the 129 students currently in the ALP, at least 28 have expressed interest in enrolling at CSUF said Chris Swarat, interim associate vice president of University Extended Education.
Hussam Qassim, a CSUF master’s student and ALP alumnus, detailed his heartbreak in a March 5 letter to Virjee after learning the university would terminate the program that gave him “excellent reading, writing and speaking skills” when he arrived to the U.S. from Iraq.
Qassim’s letter was one of many sent by ALP students and alumni imploring Virjee to keep the program alive.
Virjee said he read every letter he received, but has no plans to respond to them because they were letters “that did not ask for responses.”
He also said the letters did not give him a new perspective, or tell him anything he didn’t already know.
“Those letters were confirming for me that for the years the ALP has been in place, it’s been doing a good job doing what it was intended to do,” Virjee said. “Not all the people want it because they want to go to college, some just want it because they want to be English-language proficient.”
On April 5, several ALP students and faculty took to the Quad to protest the university’s decision to close the program.
“I think closing the ALP is a bad decision because I think it will reduce our international student community,” said Paul Taofan, an ALP student from China.
Swarat said the ALP has been in a “significant downturn” since the 2015-2016 fiscal year, which created a deficit the following year.
Bruce Rubin, ALP faculty member, said the program has experienced setbacks before throughout its 32-year history.
Like all other self-supported programs in Extended Education, the ALP receives no funding from the CSU, Swarat said.
“(The ALP) is sustained by the revenue generated through the students that are going through said program,” Swarat said.
The ALP is not the first self-support program to be shut down by the university, with non-credit-bearing programs being the most frequent to be closed, Swarat said.
To decrease the ALP’s deficit, Extended Education has to use another self-support program’s revenue to provide the necessary resources to support the struggling program, Swarat said.
“What we have to look at is, being good stewards of our programs and resources, whether or not such subsidies can be maintained without adversely affecting the quality of the bulk of our programs that we offer that also affect other student populations that we support,” Swarat said.
Although he doesn’t see how Extended Education can come up with the resources to keep the ALP afloat, Swarat said the program does have its merits.
“I would say anyone who is involved in a program of any type on this campus is a CSUF student in the broadest sense,” Swarat said.