[lg policy] SGA statement on world language requirement The Southern News

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Thu Apr 18 15:18:10 EDT 2019

Posted on April 17, 2019
by Southern News <https://thesouthernnews.org/author/thesouthernnews/> Leave
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Guest Column by Alexis Zhitomi—*SGA President*
[image: pell_041519_Zhitomi.jpg]

Alexis Zhitomi, junior, and SGA President

Dear SCSU Community,

The Student Government Association is the official representative body and
the voice of SCSU’s 7,000 plus undergraduate students and is entrusted to
represent the best interests of their constituencies. SGA acts as a liaison
between students, SCSU’s administration and
faculty, while serving as a channel for conveying the communal values and
needs of an increasingly broad range of students. For years, we have
consistently heard from students about issues regarding the Liberal
Education Program (LEP) and how it impacts
their success. We have been working diligently to insert ourselves into
conversations with faculty and staff to express those concerns. In talking
with students, one issue that is consistently raised is the overreaching
world language requirement. After comprehensive research and many indepth
conversations with faculty, staff and students, we have concluded that we
are advocating for the world language tier requirement to be modified to:
three years of the same language in high school with a grade of C or
better; or level 101 at SCSU.

Rationale: WORLD LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT: SGA has spent the better part of two
years talking about the language requirement, conducting our assessment of
its impact on student success, and benchmarking requirements of other
institutions. SGA’s boards have completed in-depth research about our
sister institutions’ policies regarding the world language requirement, and
found that they have similar requirements to each other, which greatly
differs from ours.

At our sister CSU’s, the current policy is a requirement of at least three
years of the same language in high school with a C average or better, or
two semesters of the same language in college.

In the fall of 2017, Southern modified the world language requirement for
transfer students, which allowed transfer students coming in with 60 or
more transfer credits or an associate’s degree, to be exempt from this
requirement. We know this is helping transfer students tremendously, but
this opens the conversation on why transfer students are not held to the
same standards as our native students. We are aware that the New England
Commission of Higher Education considers the rationale behind university
academic decisions. In light of this, SGA requests a copy of the data and
rationale that will be submitted to NECHE to justify the change for
transfer students, or any documentation/minutes of the conversations that
occurred in the Undergraduate Curriculum Forum (UCF) or Faculty Senate in
this regard.

GRADUATION AND RETENTION: SGA has significant concerns on how the language
requirement may impact our graduation and retention rates. We have heard
personal stories of students who chose not to come to Southern, students
who have not returned, and students that were forced to extend their time
at the university specifically because of the language requirement. We
researched the six-year graduation rates of the three other CSU’s and the
results are disheartening:
• Central- 54%
• Eastern- 52%
• Southern- 48%
• Western- 44%
As you can see, we rank third out of the four sister universities, which is
not a place that we want to see our university. Since we have heard
directly from students that the language requirement is a part of the
problem, we ask for a copy of the data or research that shows how the
language requirement is working and aiding in student success.

STUDENT FORUM: Student Government held a forum on March 6th focused on
asking whether students felt the language requirement and LEP is an issue
worth advocating for. Here are highlights of what students said:
• If students aren’t using their language, they are simply losing it.
• The requirements are “holding everybody back from graduating”.
• The language requirement feels like a “money-making scheme” If I already
know a second language, I have to pay to prove that I know it by taking the
STAMP test or paying for the classes.
• Students don’t need three levels of a language, we just need basic
communication- ex: “Hello, how are you?”
• The material doesn’t correlate from the 100, 101, to 200 level courses.
• The language requirement is not valuable to my major, mastering a
language is only important for certain majors/ disciplines.
• Our requirements are higher than many other universities, especially
other CSUs.
• Language courses fill up too quickly.
• The class times for language courses are difficult to build a schedule

We believe that the overall sentiment from the forum is what SGA has been
advocating for; the world language requirement is impeding student success
the way it stands.

We believe that it is not our responsibility to collect data to show
whether a program is working. It is your role as faculty and administrators
to do that. Our role is to share stories, advocate for our academic rights,
and promote success to graduation. We understand that there are no quick
solutions to these issues, but we are discouraged that the conversations
around the world language requirement have seemed to stop. We ask that this
issue become one of the top priorities for LEPC and UCF to address. SGA
prides itself on our great relationship with faculty, staff and
administration and we hope that you will be partners with us to find
solutions to ultimately achieve our common goal of making Southern an even
better institution.

Thank you very much for listening to your student’s voices and concerns.
Please feel free to reach out to Student Government if there are any
questions or comments. We appreciate your help as we work to provide the
best Southern experience to each one of our students.

Sincerely, Alexis Zhitomi
scsu.sga at owls.southernct.edu

*Photo Credit: August Pelliccio*


 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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