By Alexa Bautista
American Sign Language (ASL) is one of the nine language programs offered by City College, and will soon face a reduction in classes.
In the 2019-2020 school year, City College has only been able to offer two levels of ASL, AMSL 1A and AMSL 1B, taught by two instructors. Both the fall and spring semester had four sections of AMSL 1A and one section of AMSL 1B offered at Abraham Lincoln High School.
Many believe the ASL program could be eliminated completely for the upcoming Fall 2020 semester. This has caused immense concern amongst the community because ASL classes are always in high demand, and many jobs are offered once graduated from the program.
This demand is also due to the concurrent program with Abraham Lincoln High School for the AMSL 1B class because one semester of ASL can fulfill two semesters of high school language courses. Moreover, these classes fulfill the language requirement for the CSU and UC systems.
Many students and others in the Deaf community were immediately shocked and displeased with the news from an email by the ASL professors about the current situation. By eliminating the ASL program, this would deprive all students the opportunity to learn a language that is communicated visually rather than aurally.
Students such as Vlad Moro urged the college to continue ASL education at City College for the social enrichment and benefit for all students.
“Cutting ASL harms the Deaf community and harms the national language as for the blind people they know Braille. Who are we to take their language away,” Moro said. “Anyone who can hear who wants to learn another language and or wants to become an interpreter should be able to access ASL opportunities which would help the Deaf community immensely.”
From the multitude of emotions from the news, World Cultures and Language Department Chair Diana Garcia-Denson stated that this rumor is false information.
“The college has sent out wrong information about the ASL program being eliminated in a letter. I have informed professors to email their own letters back stating that this information is incorrect. There will be a reduction in classes for the fall semester,” Garcia-Denson stated. “There will only be two afternoon classes, one evening class, and one program at Abraham Lincoln High School”.
In this letter, the administration gave the World Culture and Language Department a reduced budget for the upcoming Fall 2020 semester. Unfortunately, ASL and other language programs such as Russian and German have also had their classes cut. The email that professors sent out to the community about the reduction of classes was then interpreted as the ASL program being eliminated, which resulted in students sending out letters to the Board of Trustees.
Professor of ASL Joel Gelburd explained his disappointment and frustration from ASL classes being reduced by half.
“Our education similarly to other institutions should be well funded. City College has been having this trend for the past for years in this budgetary crisis which resulted in cutting in many really wonderful programs,” Gelburd added. “Now language programs are being affected by this problem, and it’s not because of the amount of students, but because of money issues which is a pity.”