[lg policy] American Sign Language petitions for new minor at Penn

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 25 20:36:53 UTC 2012

 American Sign Language petitions for new minor at Penn A proposal for the
minor was deferred last semester due to a lack of standing faculty

By Ella Duangkaew <http://thedp.com/index.php/staff/ella_duangkaew> · January
24, 2012, 11:48 pm


Photo illustration by Justin

A new petition is asking students not to sign with pens, but rather with
their fingers.

Penn In Hand — a student-run group for people interested in learning how to
sign — is asking students to fingerspell their names in sign language and
video record their signature for a petition for the approval of a new
American Sign Language and Deaf Studies minor.

The minor, which would be housed in the College of Arts and Science’s
Linguistics Department, would consist of five required core courses and one

The core courses would be made up of several linguistics classes on deaf
culture and sociolinguistics, as well as an academically based community
service course that will require students to be involved with a native deaf

“It is an interdisciplinary minor centered around language, culture,
linguistics and academically based community service that allows students
to integrate engaging locally and globally in a research-based way,” said
Jami Fisher, a linguistics professor and the ASL program coordinator. “It
also asks of students to contribute significant amounts of their own
personal interests to what they get out of ASL.”

A proposal for the ASL minor was initially presented to the College’s
curriculum committee last semester, but was deferred upon further review
due to “the lack of standing faculty” teaching the proposed courses,
College Dean Dennis DeTurck said.

DeTurck added that the committee also questioned whether the minor could be
“sustainable on the backs of people who are not standing faculty.”

The minor will be up for re-approval when the curriculum committee meets
again in February, Fisher said.

College senior and Penn in Hand President Arielle Spellun is optimistic
that the minor will be approved this time around, since the petition that
is currently circulating “has the student voices represented and shows that
there is a lot of student interest.”

Penn in Hand’s video petition has seen participation from more than 50
students. Another e-petition has gathered more than 170 signatures as well.

“It’s very important for the committee to see that students want it,”
Fisher said. “The students took it upon themselves to show that they are

College sophomore Connor Bartholomew, a Penn in Hand board member and the
creator of both petitions, added that while there is no specific number of
signatures desired, the group’s goal is to get as many as possible.

“It’s important to show that people outside of the College and the
ASLprogram are interested, too,” said Nursing senior Lauren Olsen,
Penn in
Hand’s events coordinator.

Olsen, who has taken every ASL course available at Penn, added that
her ASLclasses have “opened my eyes to a completely different culture
and way of

“Though I won’t get the chance to have the minor [as a senior], I hope that
future years, and especially future freshmen have the opportunity to
enroll,” she said.



 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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