Students petition for ASL foreign language credit
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 18:04
Some PUC students would like to see American Sign Language become accepted as a foreign language credit for all majors. Currently, ASL only counts for select Education majors. Recently, a petition was started, as well as a Facebook page, calling for PUC to change its standards.
Kate DeRolf said that PUC is the only Purdue campus that does not count ASL as an accepted foreign language credit for all majors. She said people have complained about this for years, and would like to see it changed.
“Currently on campus you can only use it as a foreign language if you are an Elementary Education major, and I think that’s wrong. It should be open to everyone,” DeRolf said. “I looked to where I could get a degree for American Sign Language and I found that we (PUC) only have three classes for it. I thought that was wrong,” DeRolf said.
There are currently over 300 signatures for the petition and 100 likes on the Facebook page, “I support American Sign Language at Purdue University Calumet” which states: “We, the students at Purdue University Calumet, want the opportunity of having American Sign Language classes offered as a foreign language on our campus using the same standard as the main Lafayette campus. To limit this language to meet the foreign language requirement to one portion of one major (Elementary Education) not only limits our choices, but also insults the Deaf community and Deaf students here at Purdue University Calumet.”
DeRolf said the petition was originally started by herself and fellow PUC students Lori Maleckar and Maria Skavdis.
Skavdis, who is deaf, said it is unfair that ASL does not count as a foreign language at PUC and it is insulting to the deaf community and others as well. Skavdis believes that more people would take an interest in learning ASL if it were offered as a foreign language. She said it is an emerging language in this country and is an important skill for any person, in any field, just as Spanish is.
“It is accepted at PNC and Purdue West Lafayette, so why should we have to deny it as a language,” Skavdis said. “We have over 300 signatures for our petition to support making ASL a foreign language, I believe that says something.”
SGA Senator At-Large Nathyn Gibson, who has helped to gather signatures, said the petition was brought up in his ASL class. Gibson said he would have taken ASL over Spanish had it been offered.
Professor of Spanish and Department Head of Foreign Languages and Literatures Maria Luisa Garcia-Verdugo said that ASL is not considered foreign because it is an American form of the English language.
“The purpose of learning a foreign language is to get students to learn about a culture different from their own,” she said. “Part of that mission is to prepare students for future jobs where they will need to know a foreign language.”
Garcia-Verdugo said in some cases the department has made exceptions for classes that can count as a foreign language credit, but only for a small number of situations. She feels that in some cases, students may feel intimidated or uncomfortable learning and or speaking regularly in a foreign language.
DeRolf said that ASL is the third most spoken language in America, and that PUC should be more accepting of it.
“They talk about being a “hometown” school. They talk about being inclusionary to everyone. How are we being inclusionary to everyone if we are excluding part of our student body? How are we inclusionary if most of us cannot communicate with part of the student body?”