Students of the Arabic program discovered recently their request to establish Arabic language and Middle Eastern studies minors has been declined.
Students in the Arabic program sent a letter complete with statements from students and comparisons to other departments to Dean of Arts and Sciences Paula Lutz requesting the addition of the two minors.
However, like so many other programs, the reason given for the denial was the moratorium placed on the additions of new programs, including minors according to a letter from Lutz.
The effort to get this minor established has been ongoing for two years, and the push is not just coming from the Arabic program. Director of the Arabic program Dr. Ali Raddaoui and his colleagues in the global and area studies, religious studies program and history have all been pushing for this minor.
"While I want to push for my program to grow, I also know that there is a freeze on all other programs and Arabic is not different from any other major or minor," Raddaoui said. "I personally understand that."
However, the students, who were the driving force of this request, were much less content with the answer they received. Junior Dakota Wayne was one of the chairs of the student led petition to get the Arabic program elevated to minor status.
"The student position is that we want to receive official recognition on our degrees for the work that we have done," Wayne said. "We've done the work for the minor, but we aren't getting that minor."
One of the major points upsetting the students is the Arabic program is already equivalent to other language minors in terms of credit hours and classes available, Wayne said.
In the eyes of the students, the freeze should not apply, as there are no new classes to figure out and no new faculty to add, Wayne said. He added that nothing needs to be added, rather just paperwork needs to be made available so students can be formally recognized for their efforts.
Some students have said the lack of a minor could hurt the program's ability to recruit new students to start the program.
"We have been operating without a minor for quite a while," Raddaoui said. "I think it would potentially increase the number of students if we had a minor."
Although the administration has denied the request for this year, Lutz said the department is open to the establishment of these minors in the future. Especially with incoming President Laurie Nichols taking rein, degrees will be evaluated and there may be space for new additions.
But for some of the juniors and seniors, adding the program next year could be too late. These students would be pushed into the job market without being able to say officially they have these language skills.
"If I could get either minor before I graduated, that would be amazing. I would feel that I had the recognition for the education, the time and the work that I put into my undergraduate degree that I deserve," Wayne said. "In the nicest way I can say, I feel like I'm being cheated of the recognition for the work that I've done."