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Students lobby for more ASL courses, minor

Published: Friday, October 26, 2012

Updated: Friday, October 26, 2012 01:10



Students have been collaborating with faculty in the Department of Child Development to create an American Sign Language (ASL) minor.

Juniors Shaylagh McCole and Mollie Stolzer are currently in the process of petitioning for the additon of an American Sign Language (ASL) minor through the Eliot−Pearson Department of Child Development.

Adding a minor, according to Stolzer, would help raise awareness about ASL and deaf culture on campus. The students have this month been communicating with faculty and students about the minor’s potential.

McCole explained that she became interested in pursuing additional ASL courses after she began taking ASL her sophomore year.

“I ended up getting really involved and enjoyed the class,” McCole said. “I wanted to see if we could get more sign language classes offered.”

Stolzer and McCole teamed up after noticing that other sign language students were interested in an ASL minor, even receiving emails from students in ASL III who were interested in supporting them.

“She [McCole] came to me with the idea, asking if I would help her out and support her ... I thought it sounded like a great idea, and I wanted to do everything that I could to help,” Stolzer said.

The pair then took the idea to the Department of Child Development for further input, McCole said. They first approached lecturers in the Department of Child Development Jim Lipsky and Terrell Clark.

McCole and Stolzer are working on two proposals for the ASL minor. One of the proposed minors would add another ASL class and include a capstone project involving volunteer work or an internship in the deaf community, in addition to the three ASL classes that are currently offered, according to McCole.

The other version of the minor would make use of other classes currently offered at Tufts, such as relevant linguistics and child development courses, she added.

McCole explained that the first proposed minor would require additional budgeting, so the students would have to apply directly to the university and not just to the Department of Child Development.

“If we add more sign language classes, then we have to talk about getting a full−time sign language professor, which we don’t have, or pulling in another part−time professor or giving more classes to one of our already part−time professors,” she said.

McCole, Stolzer and Lipsky recently met with George Scarlett, deputy chair and senior lecturer of the Department of Child Development, to discuss the possibility of a minor and learn about the next steps they should take, according to McCole.

She hopes to submit the proposals to Scarlett in the next few weeks, and decide if they need to ask for extra funds from the university. The decision as to which minor will be officially considered will depend on the feasibility of the additional costs, McCole said.

Stolzer and McCole also developed a survey to gauge the interest of students who are currently enrolled in an ASL class or who have completed an ASL class.

Of the 28 students who responded to the survey, 12 indicated that they would pursue an ASL minor if it was offered, 15 said they maybe would be interested and one person stated no interest in the minor, according to Stolzer.

McCole said that her goal is to have one of the minors accepted for next year, but stressed that everything will ultimately depend on the budget.

“I think there’s a lot of interest in ASL at Tufts, and there [are] only three ASL classes right now,” Stolzer said. “I think even just offering the capstone project would give people at Tufts the chance to cultivate that interest more.”

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