Student government drafts resolution to change language requirement

Izzy ManzoPhoto Editor

The Student Government Association made plans to distribute money for study abroad programs and continue advocating for changes to the world language requirement as discussed during their weekly meeting on Nov. 15.

The Office of International Studies is allocated $15,000 by SGA every year, something which is decided on when the budget gets approved each summer, according to SGA President Alexis Zhitomi. In a unanimous vote, SGA voted to redistribute $2,000 of the International Studies’ money to University Access Programs, which “seeks to support disadvantaged students who have potential to meet the challenges of higher education” through enhancing students’ academic and self-management skills, according to Southern’s website.

In part, UAP organizes short term trips abroad for students in programs and scholarships such as Gear UP, Educational Opportunity Program and New Haven Promise. Zhitomi said, while credited programs will still receive aid, “it helps a good amount of students for summer programs.” The fact that certain
summer programs are non-credited gave them a priority.

“Our funding, is, in its kind of initial state, is supposed to go towards experiences for students that are non-credited,” Zhitomi said. “We’re not trying to be a financial aid, but rather a scholarship. It’s not supposed to go towards an experience where they’re getting like, three, six, nine credits.”

Director of Student Involvement and Leadership Development Denise Bentley-Drobish said, conventionally, financial aid for study abroad trips are not attached to a specific need or financial status. Rather, SGA allocates
money to the Office of International Studies, which is then distributed to students by the faculty advisors for a specific trip.

While UAP is looking for a long-term donor to fund the trips, Bentley-Drobish said every student who went on Access Program’s first international trip last year had “great financial need,” for which assistance was provided.

The trips, according to Zhitomi and BentleyDrobish, are not purely service-based but have educational aspects to them. Using UAP’s upcoming trip to Jamaica as an example, BentleyDrobish said UAP gives students who might not have the financial
stability to travel abroad the opportunity to learn about a new country’s culture and make an impact on a community.

“This year, I know that they are doing a cooking class about cultural cooking Jamaican cooking and then they’re going to a nursing home and cooking for the residents for the residents of the nursing home and having a meal with them,” she said.

SGA also discussed the ongoing issue with the world language requirement. Vice President of the Board of Academic Experience Sarah Gossman presented a resolution detailing what they see as issues with the current requirement and how it can be amended.

“[The] Board of Academic Experience and I have been working very hard on drafting this letter [and] talking about this letter,” Gossman said. “That’s kind of what we’ve been dedicating a lot of time for.”

The resolution, which was also passed unanimously, states that the current system, which requires a student to take language classes up to the 200 level, can be an “impediment to student success” and that students who complete the requirement usually are not proficient in the language that they took classes in.

“I was the one who suggested that we should say it is an impediment,” Gossman said, “because there are a lot of students who are prioritizing the world language requirement over their major requirements.”

The resolution also stated that there are discrepancies within the requirement and that some students are exempt from fulfilling it while others are not.

“The undergraduate student body questions the notion that native SCSU students must complete up to the 200 level of a world language where transfer students who enter our university with 60 credits or more are exempt from this requirement,” the letter said.

The resolution asks that the requirement be changed to the system that is currently in place in Central, Eastern and Western Connecticut State Universities. The world language requirement would be waived for students who took the same language for three or more years in high school and passed with at least a C, and, for those who must take a world language, they will only be required to take classes at the 101 level.

While a letter was sent out last spring detailing the concerns SGA had about the language requirement, according to Zhitomi, the resolution is intended to be a more concise version that highlights a few key points about the bigger issues surrounding it.

“It’s basically a reiteration of what was already addressed,” Gossman said. “You obviously don’t want to flood a resolution that’s supposed to be clear and concise.”

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