Our View: Thumbs down to ASL restrictions

DKS Editors

The Department of Modern and Classical Language announced that starting Fall 2011, the university plans to restrict all American Sign Language courses on the main campus to students enrolled in an ASL major or minor, a deaf education major or an educational interpreting major. Since then, there has been a lot of debate.

Students formed a group called Silent Standoff, which created an online petition against the restriction. The petition has more than 1,600 signatures of students who think this change will negatively affect the university.

“This is a grave injustice to both the students and to the deaf community. American Sign Language is one of the most common languages spoken in this country, second only to English and Spanish. By closing the program off to students that are not studying for a career in ASL, Kent State University is barring students from learning a valuable language that is desired throughout the country in many different fields, not just deaf education,” a statement on the petition site said.

Kudos to the students who organized Silent Standoff for taking action on something they believe to be unjust.

Timothy Moerland, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, responded in a statement regarding the ASL program changes.

“This change is being made for budgetary, staffing, and programmatic reasons. It will allow us to raise the instructional standards in the sections offered at the Kent campus and strengthen the program, so that majors emerge from Intermediate II with a stronger foundation.”

ASL classes will still be open to all students on the rest of the Kent branches, and Elementary and Intermediate ASL courses will still fulfill the College of Arts and Sciences foreign language requirement. To fulfill the foreign language requirement on main campus, students have two options: enroll in a section at one of the regional campuses or take a minor.

This isn’t really an option. How many students on main campus will realistically travel to a regional campus just to take one class? The number would be very low. If they want to take the class that badly, they may as well take the minor.


It is agreed that knowing ASL can benefit students studying many fields. It is said to be the fourth most popular language nationwide, according to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. It is sad that a program that is so highly esteemed and popular has seen such dramatic cuts. If the student demand for these classes is high enough, then the university must find a way to make it available.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.