As a retired Spanish and French teacher in public schools, I’m particularly outraged by the decision of University of Maine System Chancellor Dannel Malloy’s to eliminate the humanities and social studies departments at University of Maine at Farmington, including, of course, the Foreign Language program.

Sadly, I’m not surprised. I spent most of my career as a foreign language teacher in Maine striving to construct a coherent K-12 second language program in Hallowell-Farmingdale (then School Administrative District 16), which became quite successful thanks to my successors, particularly Naoto Kobayashi. a supremely gifted teacher whose Japanese program I helped establish over 30 years ago and that has inspired more than one generation of Maine students.

But such exceptions are not the rule; they are rare, and I’m increasingly convinced, deliberately so. Learning another language, even at a rudimentary level, exposes students at all ages to different ways of communicating and understanding the world around them. This threatens those who can’t tolerate those differences, and they are doing everything in their considerable power to squelch that understanding.

Chancellor Malloy’s decision appears to be part of that suppression. The University of Maine needs new leadership and a re-evaluation of what it means to be a university.

Jim Torbert

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