A proposal presented by the Program in Linguistics to establish a sequence in American Sign Language (ASL) that fulfills the University’s A.B. language requirement was approved unanimously by the Faculty Committee on the Course of Study (COCS) last Tuesday, according to Deputy University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss.
Though COCS decisions typically go to the full faculty for a vote, this decision “was in fact final,” Assistant Professor of Linguistics Laura Kalin wrote in an email to The Daily Princetonian.
Kalin gave an overview of the upcoming ASL expansion, which includes the addition of “four new ASL courses, ASL 101, 102, 105, and 107, which can be used to satisfy the University's language requirement” as well as a new course on Deaf culture, all of which will be added over the next two years.
According to Kalin, ASL 101 will be offered next semester, while ASL 102 and the course on Deaf culture will be available for students to take next spring.
“In addition, we will be maintaining LIN 205 as a course that is fully independent of the language sequence, designed to make an introduction to ASL accessible to more students,” she noted.
LIN 205, Beginning American Sign Language, is a popular application-based class on introductory ASL and Deaf culture.
Currently, the University offers four credit-bearing ASL courses, the first of which was offered in the spring of 2018, but completion of these courses has not fulfilled the University language requirement.
In addition to support from the Program in Linguistics, which Kalin said has wanted to establish an ASL sequence since 2017, there has been significant student support for expanding the program.
Elaine Wright ’21, who authored a column in the ‘Prince’ last November calling on the University to give language credit for ASL classes, sponsored an Undergraduate Student Government (USG) referendum on the issue that was approved by the Senate in late March.
After gaining Senate approval, Wright needed 468 student signatures for the referendum to appear on the spring ballot. She got the necessary signatures in under 24 hours.
However, in light of the recent decision by COCS, the referendum will not be included on the USG ballot. A statement by the student campaign noted that they “are thrilled that the University and the Program in Linguistics seem committed to support ASL and ensure its permanent presence at Princeton.”
Wright hopes that the University will hire more faculty members and that “200-level and advanced ASL courses [will] be added to the curriculum in the future.”
“The first time ASL was offered for credit was my freshman year,” she remarked. “Seeing the sequence develop over time and getting to be part of that first cohort, it is so exciting to see that Princeton is committed to giving ASL a permanent place here.”
Dean of the College Jill Dolan also commented on the decision in an email, stating that “the Committee’s unanimous vote in favor demonstrates the strong support of faculty and students for adding ASL to our language and culture options for undergraduate students.”