[EDLING:1544] Chinese Department Denied Professor Request - DSJ

Tue May 9 03:33:03 UTC 2006

Chinese Department Denied Professor Request

Chinese Department Denied Professor Request
by Caroline Bennett, DSJ Staff Reporter [May. 8, 2006]
Read this article online at http://www.dogstreetjournal.com/story/3261?e=709

Some students in the Chinese department may be in for a strange semester this fall. In the wake of the on-leave departure of associate professor Xiaobin Jian, the department has been denied the ability to search for a new professor. As a result, one professor will be left with the daunting task of teaching 250 people in the fall semester.
As is customary here at the College, students have not taken the possibility of such drastic action lying down, and are instead making as much of an effort as possible to evoke some sort of change. On Friday, a group of student representatives has scheduled to meet with the Dean in an attempt to discuss the situation and hopefully reach some sort of compromise. Students of the Chinese department have also congregated together to write about why the language is important to them. These letters will be presented Friday in the hopes of overriding the vote and keeping the Chinese department strong.
Contrary to the belief of some, the Dean did not actually refuse the department a professor. Rather, a vote was taken throughout the entire language departments, and the result was a 4-3 majority for hiring another French professor instead of a Chinese one. As far as hard numbers, this creates a considerable imbalance. According to Helen Wong, a junior and International Relations-Chinese double major and co-president of the Chinese Student Organization, there are far more introductory level Chinese students than French, but the French department has at least twice as many professors.
Wong stated that the U.S. Government designated Chinese an essential language because China is undeniably the next major power with which to contend.
"Chinese language study takes more time than many other foreign languages, and should really be studied five days a week, especially in the upper level classes, but that's impossible because we don't have enough professors," said Wong.
There is another dilemma that arises as a result of this situation. There are a variety of potential classes that concentrators in both Chinese and East Asian studies would be interested in taking, but unfortunately it is impossible for these classes to be offered because of professors who are preoccupied teaching language classes.
"These courses are essential to prepare us for future careers dealing with China, and important to understand fundamental cultural differences," Wong said. "I hope that the Dean and College will agree that offering a comprehensive, as opposed to simply adequate, Chinese language and literature education should be a priority."
Though the state of affairs may seem problematic at the moment for the students and faculty of the Chinese department, there is hope for a future with more than one professor per two hundred individuals. If all goes relatively smoothly during Friday's dialogue between the students and the Dean, perhaps the College’s student body will again prove that they are proficient in enacting positive change.

This article was sent to you by fmhult at dolphin.upenn.edu while visiting The DoG Street Journal [http://www.dogstreetjournal.com].

More information about the Edling mailing list