SGA plans forum centered on LEP

Victoria BresnahanNews Editor

For at least five years the Student Government Association has been advocating for a reevaluation of the Liberal Education Program, primarily the foreign language requirement, according to SGA President Alexis Zhitomi.

While the Board of Academic Experience has been the primary group working on this issue, Zhitomi said, at their weekly meeting, the whole SGA body will now collaborate on a five-point plan to advocate for change.

“We have actually the, in some form, the strictest language requirement of all the public four-year universities in CT,” she said, “and when I say strictest I mean that we go to a 200-level whereas most universities, at the most, require two semesters which would be the equivalent of our 101.”

The university currently requires students to complete a 200 level of any world language—which could take up to three semesters—or pass the STAMP exam.

Students who completed two or more years in high school are required to take an online placement test, unless they are already proficient, according to the university’s website.

Both Eastern and Central Connecticut State Universities offer students the option to complete the requirement by taking two semesters worth of the language.

ECSU only requires this if a student has not taken at least two years of a language requirement in high school, while CCSU requires at least three years.

Students of Western Connecticut State University must complete an introductory II second-semester course, or one semester of intermediate level and above if they did not complete three years of a language in high school.

Vice President of the Board of Academic Experience Brooke Mercaldi said SGA is not requesting for the elimination of the requirement.

Rather, they are looking for a reevaluation and possible elimination of one of the semesters.

SGA has also primarily been focused on ensuring that students who change their major do not take more courses than they should.

According to Zhitomi, students change their major about three times during their collegiate career.

“So that is a major issue impacting our students, and we have heard this from students,” she said.

While SGA has attempted to relay this message to faculty, staff and administration, she said they are not listening as well as they hoped.

Therefore, SGA has formed a five-step plan to bring more momentum to these issues. The plan includes hosting a forum on March, 6 to discuss these topics with students.

“We need to show staff, faculty, and administration that students care about this,” said Zhitomi.

In the past, Zhitomi said the University Curriculum Forum and Liberal Education Program Committee members have asked SGA to provide statistical data proving their claims.

However, Zhitomi said she disagrees.

The Board of Student Experience will, therefore, be compiling both positive and negative testimonials from students about their world language and LEP experiences.

“So, instead of statistical data we will be going with student’s voices and student‘s stories,” she said. “We think that will have a powerful impact on whoever we are bringing this to.”

Sam Widomski, Board of Student Experience vice president, said there is no set plan yet as to how the testimonials will be collected, but will be established by the next body meeting. Zhitomi said the format will most likely be presenting students with the chance to “write down their story.”

The executive board is also considering holding an e-board meeting with the chairs of UCF and LEPC.

The Board of Academic Experience is still working on a survey which is working towards garnering opinions from alumni who took the world language requirement during their time at the university.

Asma Rahimyar, a representative-at-large, said bilingual skills are helpful no matter a student’s major, but it is not logistic to have the requirement if a student will not use it afterwards.

“I feel like logistically, regardless of how well intentioned the system is,” she said, “ logistically it doesn’t work, and it takes away from things students need a lot more than a language skill.”

Photo Credit: August Pelliccio

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