Students in sunset programs speak out

By Abigail Cloutier

Students who are in some of the 26 programs Youngstown State University is choosing to cut spoke out about what they feel the university and future students are missing out on.

Kelly Baer, a senior religious studies major, said she was shocked and angry when she first heard the news.

“I know so many people that are minors in the department or majors and we’re all a really close-knit group, and to think that within the next couple of years all of that would be lost was definitely difficult for me,” Baer said. 

She said she’s never met kinder professors than in her religious studies program, and they teach skills that can be used throughout anyone’s life.

“Especially Dr. [Michael] Jerryson. His main thing that he taught in his class was civility and always being kind to one another, and always trying to see where the other person was coming from rather than just trying to talk over them,” Baer said. “I haven’t really gotten that anywhere else.”

Though department heads cited one of the reasons the program is being cut is a lack of interest, Baer argued almost every aspect of society and culture throughout history is affected by religion.

“Religion is a very fundamental part of someone’s personality whether they follow a religion, several religions or they don’t follow a religion at all,” Baer said. “But it’s such a fundamental part of someone’s personality that it tends to work its way into different systems and governments.” 

She added that a lot of other people in the program are worried about how it will look to employers and potential doctorate programs if they graduate from a program that will be discontinued. 

Alexis Heldreth, who graduates with a double major in history and religious studies with a minor in Jewish studies in spring 2022, said the Center for Judaic and Holocaust studies helped give her a direction as an undergraduate student.

“Dr. Labenz has prepared me to apply for grad school and profoundly shaped my worldview,” Heldreth said. “It’s irreplaceable what we’ll lose without Dr. Labenz and the center.”

Jenna DeLuca, a senior studying Italian and information technology, said Italian is integral to the history of the Mahoning Valley.

“A hundred years ago, several different lineages of my family immigrated here from southern Italy, settling in Youngstown, Ohio,” DeLuca said. “Our culture became a part of Youngstown’s identity.”

She added that a few other examples of Italian American success stories in Youngstown include the DeBartolo and Cafaro families, which she said, “YSU knows very well, as they accepted numerous donations from them.”

Editor’s note: Jenna DeLuca is employed by The Jambar as our web manager. She is not a participant in the editorial process and does not contribute to the contents of student media.