Students fight to keep LA Literature class
Professor Larry Smith teaches during his Los Angeles Literature class which will not be offered next semester. “Its been a wonderful ride, and it’s all a part of God’s plan,” Smith said. | Laurie Bullock/THE CHIMES
A group of Biola students are petitioning the English department to reconsider their decision to cancel the Los Angeles Literature class, which has been a student favorite for 12 years.
Sisters McKenna Duffy, sophomore Elementary Education major, and current student in the class and Caitlyn Duffy, senior intercultural studies major, previous LA literature student are orchestrating and presenting the LA Literature petition to administration. The petition will circulate to students later in the semester, aiming to gain 100 signatures to present to the administration as soon as possible.
“Once we stop programs that talk about Los Angeles, we are stuck inside this box of Biola,” Duffy said.
MAKING THE DECISION
This class taught by English adjunct professor Larry Smith explores race, gender and many other presumptions people make Los Angeles through literature. The English department decided to drop this class due to Biola’s long term-plan to accommodate to full-time faculty as their first priority, said Aaron Adams, the English department chair. Keeping full-time faculty in core curriculum classes exists as a strong department value.
Los Angeles Literature stood among other unnamed classes chosen for dropping a long time ago. The department filled the English 230 classes with full-time faculty and dropped the extra classes that the university could not accommodate for according to Adams.
The decision to cancel LA Literature was the lack of opportunity in the department — there were no classes available for adjuncts in English 230, Adams said. Although the department recognizes the students’ loss, they do not have the control to change it. Adams also expressed his respect for Biola’s adjunct professors and their flexibility, especially Smith.
“I respect how they are here serving our students, Larry has made a huge impact,” Adams said. “There are not many classes at this university that push students in the way that LA Literature does. Professor Smith’s class has been incredibly valuable to the university, what he has done has greatly impacted not only the students, but the staff as well.”
Students acknowledged that they felt more connected to Los Angeles through this class.
“I forget that Biola is LA county. It gave me a deeper appreciation for my surrounding environment,” said Janelle Paule, junior sociology major.
Other students feel saddened at the cancellation because they felt that LA Literature provided a unique learning experience.
“I’m disappointed in Biola and really bummed because this is a class that students need to take. It brought joy back into learning for me,” said Summer Stabe, sophomore communications major.
Smith also shares the disappointment he has toward the class’ cancellation, but maintains a positive outlook.
“Its been a wonderful ride, and it’s all a part of God’s plan,” Smith said.
Smith mainly felt disappointed about his desire for students to explore Los Angeles. Biola students need to return to LA, because that is where the university began, he said.
Biola students who previously took the Los Angeles Literature class made their concerns evident, and express what the class taught them.
“It made me realize how much I held on to the beliefs I came from and how I found identity in that,” said Thomas O’Brien, senior communications major.