Glendale Community College will cancel its only Armenian language course this fall due to budget cuts, prompting more than 450 students to protest by signing petitions to save the class.
Armenian Americans make up one of the largest ethnic groups at the college of more than 20,000 students, and about 30% of the entire city.
Losing even one language class, some said, was like eliminating an entire field of study.
"We don't feel that's the right place to cut," said Pierre Chraghchian, a board member for the Armenian National Committee.
"In an area where the population is not so high, that would be understandable."
College officials maintain that $750,000 of cuts were made to the entire school's operations--from instructional programs to administrative and student services--partly because the state is likely to provide fewer dollars this year.
The college's chair of language arts, Veloris Lang, said the advanced-level Armenian for Armenian Speakers course was not the only program canceled. Speech, journalism, Russian and at least seven English classes also will disappear from the fall schedule.
"Armenian was not singled out as the only foreign language course to be cut," she said.
More than 450 students signed a petition sent to Phillip Kazanjian, the president of the college's board of trustees, on May 10.
Lang said it is too early to tell what impact the protest will have, but college officials may decide to offer a new, non-credit Armenian language course as early as this summer.