The LSA student government voted 12 to 6 last night in favor of a proposal that would allow students to take two different languages instead of four semesters of one language to fulfill the LSA requirement.
Their decision is expected to weigh heavily on the final outcome of the proposal when LSA faculty and administrators convene in October to decide whether or not to reform the language requirement. In April, SG postponed making the decision because of a lack of student input, according to LSA-SG president and LSA junior Andrew Yahkind.
Chair of the Romance Languages department Peggy McCracken said student opinion was the most important element that was lacking in the faculty discussion. She added that LSA-SG’s recommendation would help LSA faculty gauge student views on the language requirement change.
The LSA student government vigorously debated the proposal before finally approving it. Strong opposition came from Rep. Jon Weiss.
“My fear is that the ‘2-2 option’ would not only keep students from decently grasping one language, but that it would be such a surface-level overview of two that, in the end, they would retain neither,” Weiss said in a written statement.
But the dominant attitude that night was that students should have the freedom to choose.
Representative Katie Grossman said that the current language requirement made her feel restricted because she had to continue the language track she started as a freshman.
“I felt like my education was devalued when I was forced to keep taking this language – people don’t know where they’re going to go or what they’re going to do when they’re freshman, and (the new requirement) just gives them many more options,” said Rep. Katie Grossman.
On campus, many students agree that the extra options will boost students’ enthusiasm about their classes.
“It doesn’t make sense to have someone be stuck with something,” LSA sophomore Amanda Dye said. “If they don’t like Spanish, they’re just going to trudge through their four semesters. They won’t take something they actually want to take.”
LSA junior Christina Cohen had similar experiences. Cohen placed out of three semesters of French, and although she said she was more interested in Korean and Arabic, she was compelled to continue with French. Cohen did eventually go on to take Korean, but she said some students might not want to take the extra semesters of a different language just for fun. “(The requirement) punishes people who want to try new things,” she said.
Paige Butler, LSA-SG vice president said, “I think as elected members we need to think about what the greatest good of students is, and I think that is to give them an option.”