Students rally for University mission

Amye Buckley

Faculty, students and alumni will present their opinions of the international mission to University President Bruce Speck during a noon meeting, Sept. 12 in Cornell Auditorium in Plaster Hall.

“A group of faculty got together to talk about the cuts to the international program and we discussed a number of ways we might address our concerns,” said Dr. Joy Dworkin, professor of English. “We came up with the idea of inviting people who wanted to voice their support for the mission to have the chance to do that in a confined period of time.”

The gathering is a demonstration of the significance of the international mission to the campus and community, said Dr. Ann Wyman, associate professor of political science.

“We could have 100 different people make appointments, but that does not seem like a very good use of his [Speck’s] time,” Wyman said.

Faculty involved in planning the meeting insist that this is not an attempt to change policy, but a chance to make their voices heard.

“We weren’t expecting that any decisions about how the budget being handled would be made at such a meeting we just wanted to have an opportunity to show that there’s a real strong feeling on the part of a lot of people that this is a program that needs to be fully supported by the institution,” Dworkin said.

Jennifer Sandnes, junior history major, plans to attend. Sandnes took her first trip abroad this summer as part of the now-defunct Oxford program. She is MIDS mentor, and part of her job description is to inform first-year students about Southern’s international mission.

“How can I stress our international mission if they are going to cut the funding?” Sandnes asked. “How can we stress our international mission if we’re not going to send students abroad?”

The foreign languages department is one group directly affected by the change.

Study abroad is required for foreign language teacher education majors and students must pass certification by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“We can give them all the classes,” said Leslie Parker, director of the International Language Resource Center. “But if they [teacher education students] do not meet the professional guidelines through the department and nationally then they are not graduating.”

Parker is concerned that without funding the study abroad trips will suffer, and her students will not have the experience of conversing with native speakers.

“We hope that when they graduate they use their language and not just have it be on their diploma,” Parker said.

Organizers hope to achieve a broad mix of perspectives from across campus.

“I think it is a statement of why we should keep it and enhance it,” Wyman said. “All he [Speck] needs to do is listen.”