Response to the Student Senate proposal to cut the International Representative through student vote.
I do not support Student Senate’s vote to remove the International Representative (IR) position. We have been discussing diversity awareness on campus this year given the occurrence of hate crimes and bias incidents. In the same meeting Senate decided to cut the IR position, they passed a resolution, saying, “the students of this college will not tolerate the silencing of entire communities nor the perpetuation of cultural apathy and insensitivity.” Ironic and troubling, Senate’s vote reveals that they do not quite understand what this passage means.
The assumption that every student has equal power and understanding at Gustavus is false. International Students experiences are drastically different than domestic students. I am alarmed that Senate assumes an International Student and coming from a different country, culture, way of life understands the role of Student Senate. Removing the IR position shows apathy towards their valuable cultural experiences. Yes, they are a small minority group, but an important one. International Students are not the privileged voice because they have an extra representative. We are the privileged ones to have them here and to hear their perspectives.
Cultural sensitivity means we listen to experiences different than our own, and understand that our way is not the only way. Reducing International Students’ voices means that we lose, too.
Regardless if this amendment passes after the student body vote, this encourages cultural apathy and insensitivity. We are a heterogeneous group. Assuming that everyone has equal Gustavus experiences homogenizes the student body represented by Student Senate.
I urge my fellow students to not only “vote no” on this amendment, but to voice their opinions to Student Senate in order to prevent representatives from considering these kinds of votes in the future.
-Ava Goepfert ’14
Response to the proposed cuts of the Chinese Mandarin classes.
During my junior year at Gustavus, I heard that a Mandarin Chinese course would be offered for the first time that fall. Since I love languages, I immediately rearranged my schedule so I could take the class and try a language vastly different from anything I had previously studied. I didn’t have much interest in China, but I wanted to try something new. The class was great, giving me not only a solid understanding of the basics of the language, but also making me more interested in the culture and history of China.
During my senior year, an opportunity arose for me to move to China and work in a college that has a relationship with Gustavus. Now I’m typing this from my office in Zhuhai, China, where I have been living since August 2012.
Were it not for Gustavus offering that class, I certainly never would have moved to China. For that reason, I am obviously in favor of retaining the Chinese program at Gustavus. However, I think the arguments for keeping Mandarin Chinese at Gustavus go much deeper than my own personal experience.
China is quickly becoming a superpower, and its influence this century will only continue to grow. The elimination of Chinese not only prevents GAC students from learning about this important country, but also weakens Gustavus compared to other peer institutions. It is the fastest growing language in the US, and it seems likely with each passing year, more incoming students will expect their college to offer this critical language.
Learning Chinese is fascinating, fun, and globally important, and could even change lives, as it has mine. If Gustavus decides to get rid of Chinese classes, it will make itself look worse in comparison to other institutions, and it will deprive students of a wonderful opportunity.
Catherine Keith ’12