The future of Modern Greek Studies at Macquarie University was one of the main topics of discussion at a public meeting held by the Macquarie University Greek Studies Foundation Limited on Thursday, February 11.
With over 40 people in attendance, the meeting became heated and confusing at times. Some questioned the Foundation’s “transparency,” while others tried desperately to steer the conversation towards ensuring the survival of the Modern Greek Studies major at the university.
As noted in a past media release from the Foundation, in the 2021 academic year, Modern Greek at Macquarie will be offered as a minor, but “students who are presently enrolled will be able to complete their studies if they had nominated Greek as a major.”
In documents received by The Greek Herald, and handed out to attendees on the night, the Foundation clarified that a number of other issues were also discussed with the university during negotiations which began on March 26, 2020 and concluded on November 25, 2020. These are:
- The Foundation would donate $55,000 to Macquarie University Greek Studies, even though the university had initially asked for an annual sum of $150,000;
- The existing agreement whereby the Foundation would provide the necessary funds for “one academic position in Modern Greek Studies,” would remain in place;
- And the university will decide on their language policy sometime in 2021.
The Greek Herald asked the Foundation’s President, Mr Theo Premetis, to elaborate on these negotiations, with a specific emphasis on whether they were given a specific student threshold that needed to be met to ensure the viability of the Greek major.
“Currently, Modern Greek Studies [overall] has 69 students… But we were told that for the Greek Studies major [to remain viable], there needs to be at least 50 students who want to do it. We’ve never had 50 students,” Mr Premetis replied.
The Foundation’s Secretary, Mr Theodoridis, added that there are only six students who are currently taking the Greek major at Macquarie University.
“Unfortunately, we only have six students in that category and that is one of the major problems in convincing the university to keep Greek as a major,” Mr Theodoridis said.
“Our problem is not so much a financial problem. Our problem is getting, excuse the expression, ‘bums on seats.’ That is the sad reality.”
This news shocked many in attendance as questions quickly turned to what the Greek community can do to ensure the survival of Modern Greek Studies at the university. Some suggested the need to engage more with Greek Orthodox colleges in Sydney, while others thought the Greek language needed to be spoken more at home.
On a broader issue, others brought up the question of the Foundation’s transparency and said the way forward was to hold elections, accept Macquarie University graduates as life members of the Foundation “unconditionally,” and then begin negotiations with the university.
As Lecturer of Modern Greek Studies at Macquarie University, Dr Patricia Koromvokis, also had an important point to make, stressing that her Department will be working closely with the student-led Macquarie University Greek Association (MUGA) to help ensure the survival of the Greek major.
“For 2021 only, we have already had a very successful virtual event with the Greek Education Minister, in co-operation with the students,” Dr Koromvokis said.
“We have a conference with the University of Ioannina in July and we are also co-operating with the Greek Archdiocese, where I will make presentations for the Greek Independence celebrations. So we are going closer to the community because the community is very important for us.”
With such a big year ahead, The Greek Herald plans to keep our readers informed on the future of Modern Greek Studies at Macquarie University.