Paula Varsavsky is a very good Argentinean writer. I invited her to speak to my students this coming February, and the whole Department was very eager to see her here. I included her short story as required reading in my courses. The plan was to have the students read the text and then give them a chance to meet the author and speak to her. Paula is a very good speaker, and I know they would have loved listening to her. Everybody was really looking forward to this.
Today, however, I had to disappoint my students. I told them that the writer's visit to our university has been cancelled bacause of the budget freeze. The budget for Paula Varsavsky's visit was actually very very modest. The writer offered to limit the budget even more, but all to no avail. We are not allowed to spend even a dollar on such an important cultural activity.
I can't begin to tell you how frustrating this is. The students would have benefited from this in a variety of important ways. When I heard the President say in his yesterday's State of the Union address that universities need to start cutting spending, I thought how sad it is that we have to give up on such important cultural activities - which also cost next to nothing - while there is always money to send more troops all over the world and the Pentagon does not see even a tiny little cut in its spending.
They call it a "freeze" and a "cash flow problem." I know from sad experience, however, that when an institution gets into the practice of cutting funding for cultural and educational events, it's very hard to get it back on track. The efforts to kill the Humanities have been going on for a while. They started long before anybody even heard of the current economic crisis. I feel that this particular crisis is just an excuse that is being used to continue the assault on Humanities.
And more than anything in the world I hate having to deprive my students of the educational experiences they deserve.