Students are actively pursuing the creation of an Arabic major with a petition that is circulating around campus.
Currently, the university only offers an Arabic minor. Pending review of the university and the Languages, Literatures and Cultures department, students are hoping to see the major in place for the 2018-19 academic year.
Arabic, one of the critical languages labeled by the United States government, is an official language of the United Nations and is spoken in 22 countries.
According to Ibtisam Abujad, a visiting instructor of Arabic, students have been asking for an Arabic major for years because it is a unique quality when applying for jobs and graduate school.
During her first semester at Marquette, a freshman asked Abujad how to major in Arabic. She told the student he had to minor because that was the only option, and he refused.
"How do you answer the question of why there is no major and why he can't pursue this?" Abujad said. "Where can you go to major in Arabic and what university has this major? That was a problem because we want students to stay at Marquette."
According to Dr. Enaya Othman, assistant professor of Arabic, most students who come to Arabic classes want to further their study.
"(They can) improve on the assumption that this will increase their chances of finding jobs which would enhance their life, fulfill their ideal and serve the world community, giving them more understanding and respect (for others)," Othman said.
Members of Arabic club are also involved in spreading the petition.
"We drafted the petition and then sent it to Professor Abujad to be revised. We are (going) around asking Marquette students and faculty to sign, but students are also needed to write one page letters saying why they think (the major) would be helpful and benefit the university," Claire Weber, Arabic club president, said.
If approved, the university will need to hire more professors as there are only two teaching language courses currently. The major will incorporate influences from language, religion, history and culture.
Abjuad said Marquette is not only looking at this program as an option for students to study, but to expand into the growing Arab and Muslim community in the greater Milwaukee area that students are trying to get involved and connect with.
"I would like Marquette to look at this as not only a positive for students, but a positive for campus," Abjuad said. "It will bring in more applications, create a diverse community, and in the future students will credit their success back to the university."
Allie Bitz, senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and executive vice president of MUSG, credits some of her best memories at Marquette from experiences provided by the Arabic program.
"The addition of an Arabic major will benefit the University by giving students another opportunity to engage with diverse cultures and ideas," Bitz said. "Not only the courses I've taken, but also the people I've met through Arabic have allowed me to encounter a range of experiences that I never had growing up in suburban Wisconsin. Out of all the experiences I've had at Marquette, being a part of Arabic classes has been the most like being a part of a family."