The Gustavian Weekly

Chinese Department at risk of being abolished: Students and faculty respond in a multitude of ways, including social media, in response to Chinese program possibly being cut

By Monali Bhakta - News Editor | March 23, 2018 | News

A core component of a Gustavus education is for students to be exposed to a wide variety of classes that cover many disciplines across the world.

Students have the chance to pick from a multitude of courses that fuel their interests in a learning environment where this knowledge is available.

This has been the philosophy of the modern languages, literatures, and cultures department which gives students the opportunity to choose and learn a language from different areas around the globe.

As of now, Gustavus offers the following languages: Spanish, Japanese, Russian, French, Russian, and Mandarin Chinese.

However, the Provost Office has issued that there will possibly be a cut to the Chinese program in the curriculum next year.

This is mainly due to a budget cut as there is a good chance that the college will no longer allocate its money to fund for the Chinese program.

As news of this decision has spread all over campus several passionate students have decided to take a stance against it.

First-year Kyle Krippner, who is currently taking Mandarin II, expressed his concern through social media by publishing a passionate plea on the Overhead at Gustavus Facebook group.

In his post, Krippner explains how he has had the chance to learn and experience the exquisite Chinese culture and why it is important for Gustavus to preserve this tradition instead of abolishing it.

He also attaches a link to a petition where he encourages fellow Gusties to sign in order to show the amount of support being received by the student body and faculty.

The petition argues that Chinese is an essential language that is spoken by one fifth of the global population, so “it will be easier for students to communicate with the locals and cover a fair bit of the whole world by learning the language”…“for those who desire to improve their competitive edge in the job market, a Chinese course will give them an advantage.”

In addition, the petition mentions how Chinese is able to push forth the college’s agenda by adding to the diversity across campus, as it attracts students who want to learn more about Asian culture.

Besides Krippner, other students have also spoken out about their discontent with this decision. “Chinese is extremely important to me. Being an adopted Chinese-American, I have always struggled with figuring out who I am and how I fit into society. Learning the Chinese language and learning about culture is what has made me discover the role my ethnicity has in my life and how proud I am to be Chinese,” said First-year, Kristie Olsen.

Considering that the Asian population is already as low as it is, many students want Chinese to be kept because it is the only East Asian language being offered.

Getting rid of Chinese could also lead to the loss of GCC, short for the Global China Connection, because the Chinese Department is the only one that sponsors it.

While there are valid financial reasons for this decision, “there are better ways to go about changing the program instead of getting rid of the course all together…they could send teachers to international training sessions for teachers and professors. If you look at class records, there use to be more students when there was more levels,” Olson continues.

Aside from students, faculty in the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, have taken a more modest approach on addressing this issue.

The MLLC Department has already made it clear that it did not make this decision.

It had instead gotten word from the Provost Office which has reassured that the administration is planning to bring the language back eventually.

Nan Li, the Visiting Assistant Professor in Chinese, believes that it was the students who mainly attracted her to come teach at Gustavus.

“Teaching Chinese here, personally, is also a way I share my heritage with my students…I learn so much from them…the overall impression is that students know they need to put time and effort. I would say, generally speaking, they enjoy that…in my teaching evaluations, some of them say, ‘yes, it’s challenging,’ but they also like the part to learn about the Chinese culture, and they know that this is a competitive language for them to learn.”

With that incentive in their minds, students who do have a strong appreciation for the language, are trying their best to raise awareness by reaching out to the Diversity Leadership Council and Student Senate. As of now, the fate of the Chinese Department remains unclear.

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