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Opponents of Washington State University’s plan to close the school’s Department of Community and Rural Sociology have taken their cause online with social networking tools.

The university announced early this month that it will close the rural sociology department as part of a $54 million budget cut that will eliminate 371 jobs system-wide.

An online petition created by a research committee of the International Sociological Association says the department is important for survey methodology, community development projects, and the study of food and agriculture. The petition has 282 signatures, primarily from faculty and students around the United States.

On the Facebook front, a small group has posted links to news coverage and a page to comment on the proposal to university’s budget committee.
Washington State President Elson S. Floyd said the cuts were painful but necessary to meet budget cuts. Washington is a land grant school, meaning part of its mission is to serve rural areas. The budget also calls for closing regional distance learning centers and shutting the IMPACT Center, which studies the economic impact of Washington’s agriculture and food systems.

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