General Education Title Turns 'pc'
San Diego State is following suit in political correctness withother universities across the country by dropping the word “foreign”from the general catalog’s “Foreign Language Requirement.”
According to Dean of Division of Undergraduate Studies GeoffreyChase, the University Senate decided to delete the word “foreign”from the title last Tuesday. Chase said the extraneous word carriesnegative connotations and should, therefore, be omitted in the nextpublication of the general catalog.
Members of the Undergraduate Council, who drafted a rationale, insupport of this initiative wrote: “The term ‘foreign’ has been usedto designate something alien and is as ethnocentric and inappropriateas using ‘oriental’ to designate a person of Asian descent.”Moreover, members pointed out many universities that have alreadychanged the wording of the requirement such as Stanford University,University of Michigan, University of Chicago and University ofTexas.
Chase said he knew of some Cal State Universities that havealready made the transition. CSU San Marcos did so in 1999. Prior tothis, Chase said other alternatives for the existing title included”Non-English Language” and “Second Language,” but were both rejectedby the council since English is not always a primary language in thehousehold. He said the change will be implemented at SDSU free ofcost and he does not expect any problems with it.
“I don’t think it is too vague,” Chase said. “From my perspective,the term ‘language’ is fine.”
Althoughthe action does not change graduation requirements, linguistics andoriental languages professor Zev Bar-Lev disagrees with the council’sdecision and considers it harmful. He said while small doses ofpolitical correctness can be helpful to avoid giving offense inwriting, its excess will hog-tie writers and speakers.
“The inevitable result is new stereotypes: female fireperson, malenurse,” he said.
Bar-Lev said stereotyping is the real villain within the issue.
“If I have to choose a stereotype, I no more want to be forced tochoose the unrealistic one over the realistic one,” he said.”Presumably the requirement listing is clear enough legally, but whythe debasement of language by subordinating accuracy to PC-ness?”
Classics and humanities professor Nicholas Genovese, who alsoopposes this motion, said a ‘Language Requirement’ does not suffice.
“The original purpose of our ‘foreign’ language requirement (is)to introduce liberal arts and sciences majors to foreign cultures,traditions and nations through other languages and literatures,”Genovese said. “A ‘language requirement’ does not ensure this.”
According to Bar-Lev, many universities are oblivious that theirspeech codes create a problem for a great American value – freespeech. He said many universities seek diversity of skin color, butfew seek diversity of opinion in their faculty or guest speakers.However, diversity of opinion is what a university should be allabout, he said.
Biology senior Ken Colburn said he doesn’t think the word”foreign” is necessary, but also believes the issue is a littleirrelevant.
“I think it shows how our society has become more and morepolitically correct to the point where we’re afraid to offendanyone,” he said.
Communication sophomore Tamara Murray said the movement from”Foreign Language Requirement” to “Language Requirement” doesn’tbother her.
“It makes sense,” Murray said. “By assuming English is the onlynon-foreign language, the term could seem discriminatory. It’ssomething I don’t usually think about as a native speaker.”
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