Students who want to use a course in sign language to fulfill Chapman University’s language requirement have been denied because school officials say the subject lacks a written component.While the university does not offer a class in the subject, transfer students who’ve taken sign language at other schools or current undergraduates who take the course at an outside institution are not allowed to count their units toward Chapman’s six-unit foreign language requirement.In order for a language to be considered for a foreign language requirement, there also needs to a cultural component to study,” said John Snodgrass, registrar, whose office decides how to count transfer units. “With Japanese, there is the Japanese culture to study. Whether sign language has a cultural component has been debated.”He added that it’s up to the individual departments to decide which courses to offer.Don Cardinal, dean of the School of Education — a department that is a possible candidate for hosting a course in the topic should one ever be offered at Chapman — said that naysayers may be overlooking an important facet of the many forms of sign language.”Sign languages ” have historical and cultural aspects that are very academic, thus within reason to consider,” said Cardinal, who added that lack of demand for sign language courses is most likely the reason it’s not offered at Chapman.Transferred sign language units counts toward general electives or humanities credits, according to Snodgrass.Sophomore Arayana Potter, who’s mother teaches the subject in New Mexico, met with language department officials last spring, because she wanted to take a sign language class at a community college and use the units to fulfill the department’s requirements.”I was told that because there was no written component, the foreign language department didn’t offer the course,” she said. To bring a class to Chapman, it first must be part of a department. Deciding which department would host a sign language course is part of the problem, said Raymond Sfeir, business and economics professor.”We don’t have a department of sign language or a program in sign language in general, so that’s why we don’t offer it,” said Sfeir, who added that faculty have not requested the course be taught.John Boitano, head of the foreign language department, said that a course in sign language would be better suited to the School of Education, than to his program.However, Cardinal said since there is no credential requirement in sign language, offering the course to undergraduates — possibly as an elective — would be more appropriate.”If a group wanted to have the course here at Chapman, I think it would be doable,” he said. “But there should be, at least at this time, no assumption that it would count as a language.
Students who want to use a course in sign language to fulfill Chapman University’s language requirement have been denied because school officials say the subject lacks a written component.