The decision to cut all American Sign Language courses at GW is wrong. While the Graduate School of Education and Human Development makes the understandable argument that it is losing money to classes mostly filled by undergraduates, Columbian College officials who have been advocating to take the reasonable alternative. Clearly there is demand for these classes, a demand that GW should feel an obligation to meet by the fall. ASL classes should be commended.
Jay Shotel, chair of the teacher preparation and special education department in the GSEHD, said he had no choice in the matter because of two-year-old rules prohibiting the graduate school from taking undergraduate student money. But GW budget experts say the school has never been able to make money off classes filled by undergraduates. Regardless of nuances in budget rules, it is clear that important classes being consistently filled by undergraduate students should have a home in GW’s undergraduate schools.
GSEHD reports a $100,000 loss on ASL classes last year because the schools was essentially offering the course for free. The University should find room for these classes to be taught elsewhere within GW’s vast academic universe, so that fees for the classes go toward paying teacher salaries. The speech and hearing department in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences seems to be a logical place to offer ASL courses.
The problem GW presents students with at the moment is big one: if you want to study ASL, you have to go to Gallaudet University and pay for courses that GW will not recognize. Students should not have to enroll at another school to take classes in such high demand, and they certainly don’t want to take classes that carry no credit.
That 90 percent of the students taking ASL classes in the graduate school of education shows undergraduates are far more interested in the courses. And getting 60 people to show up at the Virginia campus after they moved last semester is an impressive show of interest.
Outgoing Student Association President Roger Kapoor and SA President-elect Phil Robinson have both expressed that they plan to push for undergraduate ASL courses on the Foggy Bottom campus. We support them in that cause and hope that GW will hear student concerns, no matter what language is used to communicate them.