Students attending Marymount University, a Catholic liberal arts institution in Arlington, Virginia, are protesting and voicing their concerns regarding school officials’ recent decision to cut nine majors and one graduate program, including theology and religious studies.
On February 24, the university’s board of trustees unanimously voted 20-0 to end bachelor’s degree programs in theology and religious studies, philosophy, mathematics, art, history, sociology, English, economics, and secondary education. The board also axed a master’s program in English and humanities.
The school noted that it plans to reallocate resources to more in-demand programs but has not clarified where the money from the cut programs will go.
It stated that the decision “reflects not only our students’ needs, but our responsibility to prepare them for the fulfilling, in-demand careers of the future.”
Following the board’s decision, Marymount University’s director of communications, Nick Munson, told WRC-TV, “We tried to figure out the best way forward for growth and success long-term. Now, not everyone will agree with that.”
Students told Fox News Digital that the controversial decision had become a “really big topic” on campus, creating a “very tense” atmosphere.
Those against removing the programs argued that the cuts would potentially drive away current and future students. They also voiced concerns that removing theology and liberal arts studies would alter the school’s identity.
Ethan Reed, politics major at Marymount University, said, “The overall atmosphere of the Marymount community right now is just kind of dead, and it’s very tense.”
Reed added that he is unsure whether he will stay at the school to finish his degree.
“This is only my sophomore year, so I’m here for two more years. I honestly don’t even know if I want to stay here any more because of what’s going on. And the blatant disregard for student concerns even though we’re the ones that are keeping the school up and running,” he added.
Grace Kappa, a communications major, told Fox News Digital critics took issue with the decision for several reasons.
“We’re angry because this is a Catholic school and how could you get rid of a theology major? And others were angry because our schools [were] built on a liberal arts core and it’s in our mission statement,” Kapacs stated. “Others were angry because they got a degree in the humanities there and now they’re doing great things in the world, and they feel like others are going to miss out.”
Students and alumni opposing the plan sent letters to the university’s president, Irma Becerra, urging her to reconsider the cuts.
In a letter to Becerra, student government president Ashly Trejo Mejia wrote, “Cutting portions of the School of Humanities as well as math and art programs would be detrimental to the diversity of our student body.”
“We fear that removing programs will alter the foundation and identity Marymount University was built on,” Trejo Mejia added.
According to Reed, some student leaders are pushing for Becerra to resign.
“There are some of the other student leaders that are trying to look into [calling for Becerra’s resignation] now because, at this point, it’s clear that this administration here is not working for the students,” Reed said. “They’re working for the money. They’re working solely for their colleagues up there higher up. And it’s just sad.”
Marymount University claimed that the program cuts will not impact the school’s mission as a Catholic liberal arts institution because the students will still study the subjects as part of the school’s core curriculum.
“Every one of these foundational subjects remain part of our core curriculum, which supports our mission and Catholic identity,” the university said in a statement prior to the vote to end the programs. “All University programs will continue to be grounded in the liberal arts and the Marymount University Board, President and Cabinet remain committed to continuously improving the student experience.”
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the university told Fox News Digital that the decision to cut the programs included “community-wide involvement” that was “rooted in data and research.” In addition, the spokesperson noted that the school “has and will continue to work with our students, and we always want to hear their perspectives.”
“Multiple information sessions are actually being held this week with students as they will have the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns directly with Marymount administrators, including the president and the provost. Last week, a town hall meeting was also held with faculty and staff,” the spokesperson added.
Reporting from The Blaze.