09.12.12 | GOLDENGATEXPRESS.ORG STAFF EDITORIAL
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Delicate topic deserves nuanced debate
prising that the University has begun soliciting ethnicity information from students. The ethnicity form used online is an improvement over traditional questionaires, but it still requires you to select only one ethnicity as per federal guidelines. Although students have the option of specifying the type of Asian or American Indian they are, the ultimate classification that matters only offers eight options: American Indian or Alaska Native, Black or African-American, Asian, Hispanic or Latino, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, White, two or more ethnicities, and decline to state. And yet, students choose. A subject as delicate and nuanced as ethnic identity should not be boiled down to such cut-and-dry categories. Some people might not know their exact ethnic makeup. Others come from mixedrace households where identity isn’t as simple as checking one box or another. SF State should be admired for exploring all avenues of procuring additional funds, but asking people to define themselves so narrowly doesn’t get us any closer to a campus where all ethnicities are recognized and accepted. Asking people to label themselves — especially when those labels differentiate us from one another so distinctly — can only serve to drive wedges between us, but failing to do so could potentially deprive SF State of much-needed funds. When faced with choices like these, each of us simply must weigh our priorities and choose between the lesser of two evils.
N MARCH OF THIS year SF State became an Asian American, Native American and Pacific Islander- Serving Institution, building on its status as one of the nation’s most diverse campuses. Since August, the University has been calling for students to declare their ethnicities in time for designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. The designation would make SF State eligible for additional federal funds, which are sorely needed as state reserves continue to shrink. While the possibility of extra money is encouraging in these cash-strapped times, soliciting such controversial information for funding instead of letting students give it of their own discretion is unsettling. The University hopes to raise the total declared percentage of Latino students to 25 percent to qualify for the grants. As of Fall 2011, according to the SF State Data Book, the combined Latino undergraduate population is at 23.9 percent, roughly 600 students short of the goal. With the goal seemingly so close at hand, it isn’t sur-
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Language a must for international campus
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BY ANGELA RAIFORD | email@example.com
In 2010, more than 14 million people all over the world were learning to speak German, according to statistics published by Netzwerk Deutsch. I took my first German language course in Spring 2010. The room was bustling with bad German rap, umlauts in all the wrong places and kids trying to fill their language requirements for going abroad. I returned to SF State from my year abroad at the University of Tuebingen, Germany in Fall 2011 to a diminished roster of professors and courses. With three courses left to complete my minor, it was vital for me to get them done quickly. But it didn’t work that way. I failed a mandatory course, which wasn’t offered in Spring 2012. The class was not offered again this semester, which begs the question — why are required courses not being offered every semester? These As I enter each seshould be the priority to help students in mester with fewthese dwindling departments. er options than With only two teachers in the entire the previous, I German department, I understand the wonder if anyone challenges, but why is nothing being really cares about done? Where is the push to add more the students still language teachers instead of bringing left behind in the candy-slinging DJs to blare their tunes department. outside the Humanities Building? In a meeting with new President Leslie E. Wong, he expressed an interest in being kept up to date with the dissolution of language programs at SF State. At this moment, I’m confident he really does want to hear about the issues. Perhaps programs should be planning appropriate strategies to manage their future. Every semester the student community is changing. While the German department may find itself losing enrollment steam, there are
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ways to rework the department into a major or minor about global culture. There should be plans in place for every department on how to deal with managing the direction of their fields. Perhaps restructuring could be done to make the foreign language courses more appealing to students. The University of Southern California announced in April 2008 that they would no longer offer German major or minor programs. It was a decision that drew heavy criticism from both students and faculty concerned it would reflect poorly on their commitment to culture. For a campus recognized for its international diversity, shouldn’t SF State be more concerned about our declining language programs? As I enter each semester with fewer options than the previous, I wonder if anyone really cares about the students still left behind in the department. Students entering the German department will be left waiting years to see their required courses become available. What about those in their last semester who need the courses now? What about students in majors like my own who are required to have a minor to graduate? God help them should they be forced to wait an extra year to get all of their courses. I knew that going abroad would save me a lot of the headache, but who knew getting my last three required courses would be so hard? Merely having a student enroll in an unrelated course as well as submit an extra project in order to supplement what was once a required course is not appropriate action. I am not oblivious to the international presence at SF State. International Chinese students rose from 119 in Spring 2007 to more than 500 in Spring 2012. More than 1,500 international students study at SF State’s campus every day, according to the Office of International Programs website. While my message speaks specifically for German language students, in order to continue representing itself as an international community, SF State needs to make all foreign languages a priority. Instead of settling for what we have, we need to move toward a more prominent foreign language department. In a perfect world, this school would put enough value on foreign language to protect its existence on campus. In German I might say, “ich drücke dir die Daumen.” In other words, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
In the Gators’ sports scoreboard, we incorrectly reported the women’s volleyball victory over the University of Alaska Anchorage as 3-0. The score was 3-1.
We also failed to attribute our voter preparation guide. The guide was compiled by Danielle Steffenhagen.
We regret our errors.
Issue 3 of the 2012 Fall Semester edition of the Golden Gate Xpress