Undergraduate linguistics concentrators who are protesting an ongoing reexamination of their department yesterday defended the department's status to the Faculty advisory committee on linguistics.
The committee, which will present recommendations on the department's future status to the full Faculty this spring, interviewed the undergraduates as part of its ongoing investigation, said Professor of Philosophy Warren D. Goldfarb '69, the committee's chair.
"The committee is exploring the Linguistics Department," Goldfarb said. "Right now, we're exploring the undergraduate concentration." The committee had not moved to speak to the department's six undergraduates before, students said.
Undergraduates who attended the Emerson Hall meeting said the interviews were generally friendly. The students said they testified that they are very happy with linguistics' present setup.
"I'm happy in that they did not manage to get any false complaints about us, because I thought that's what they were looking for," said Genevieve Roach '94, a linguistics concentrator.
Although some students said they felt committee members were fishing for complaints, the questioning was not harsh or unfriendly, students said.
"I don't feel they were trying to attack the department," said Roach.
Though they were pleased to be consulted about their concentration, linguistics students were not reassured by yesterday's meeting.
"I'm pretty cynical because I don't see any plans being made to retain [the department's] two junior professors," said Clare Crawford '94. "If you lose one-third of the faculty in the next year, it's clearly not in the students' best interest."
The advisory committee was convened last August to review the ailing department, which boasts just two tenured professors and which officials have suggested might work better as an interdisciplinary committee than a department.
Students and nationally renowned linguists have protested the possible downgrading of the department, saying that linguistics functions best as a department because it is a distinct field of study.