Published April 16, 2006
Long waitlists for nearly every upper-level class are an indication that departments should make more courses available - or so it would seem. But the Department of Romance Languages has taken the opposite approach, hoping to address demand for Spanish courses by discouraging students from taking them.
Last Tuesday, the LSA Curriculum Committee unanimously voted to suspend the Spanish academic minor for at least 3 years, beginning with next year's freshmen. The change will certainly leave Spanish majors with more flexibility in scheduling, but it will come at the expense of sending would-be minors to pursue other interests.
LSA Associate Dean Robert Megginson said the minor's popularity overwhelmed the Spanish department. Many upper-level courses reserve most spaces for Spanish concentrators or minors, and yet classes still fill up early. Shortages make it difficult for students outside the department or with low class standings to enroll in upper-level courses.
Responding to student demand by discouraging students from learning Spanish is not an acceptable response. The Spanish minor offers students not enrolled in the Spanish major an incentive to pursue significant coursework beyond the language requirement.
The dramatic growth of the Spanish language within the United States has made knowledge of the language a particularly useful skill. Instead of suspending the minor, LSA should expand course offerings to meet student demand. The University should address popular concentrations with increased resources to alleviate overcrowding - not by kicking students out of the department.