Philadelphia: Penn's UA discusses exclusion of American Sign Language from Wharton School language requirement

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Tue Feb 24 19:38:57 UTC 2009

UA discusses American Sign Language, shuttles and drainage

Maggie Rusch

On Sunday, the Undergraduate Assembly mulled over a policy update
addressing the exclusion of American Sign Language from the Wharton
language requirement before moving to internal affairs. While both the
College and Nursing recognize ASL as a valid language for the
requirement, Wharton does not. Wharton freshman Andrew Roberts and
College sophomore and UA member Michael Chen brought the policy update
before the UA for support and guidance from the student group as they
move forward.

Roberts described the policy as both "discriminatory and misguided,"
and he questioned Wharton's aversion to ASL. He also cited a list of
several business schools around the country that accept ASL.

To demonstrate ASL's status as a "different language," G.J.
Melendez-Torres, a Nursing and Wharton sophomore and UA member, served
as the ASL interpreter for the night, signing the translated version
of the discussion.

The policy has already received support from Penn Language Center
Acting director Lada Vassilieva and ASL Program coordinator Jami

According to Roberts, Wharton director of Academic Advising Scott
Romeika explained that Wharton does not accept ASL as it is not an
international language and does not aid global education.

"Our goal right now is to get on the agenda of the board of Wharton
faculty," said Roberts. "It's the only way we can change policy."

Several members suggested that the presenters advance the policy
update into a proposal. After a quick recess for discussion, however,
Roberts expressed concern at alienating individuals at such a stage.

The UA also addressed a policy update on a potential shuttle to the
King of Prussia mall and passed a proposal on the spring break airport

College junior and UA member Lucia Liu has attended discussions with
the Harrison College House Council about the possibility of the UA
cosponsoring a bus with the House Council to King of Prussia and
possibly Costco.

Debate on the spring break shuttle proposal mainly addressed UA member
obligations, including the absence penalty for missed shifts.

The Sustainability, Safety and Facilities Committee has made progress
on two campus initiatives, both slated to be completed by Fall 2009.

The projects include improved drainage to prevent flooding on Locust
Walk, particularly around 1920 Commons, and the installation of extra
lighting in the off-campus area between Lombard and Pine streets to
44th Street.

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