CLA committee OKs new

Amirali Raissnia
Scholars in Asian languages and culture might get their own department at the University in the near future, but a Chinese language professor says the move wouldn’t address the real problems in the program.
The College of Liberal Arts Committee for Curriculum, Instruction and Advising voted Tuesday in favor of a proposal to create a department of Asian languages and literatures.
The vote came Tuesday afternoon in the Humphrey Center after more than two hours of open panel speakers voicing their opinions for and against the new department.
The proposal was initially put forth by Steven Rosenstone, CLA dean. The proposal will remove South and East Asian languages and literatures from their current home, the Institute of Linguistics and Asian and Slavic Languages, and place them all into a single department dedicated to Asian language and culture.
Proponents of the proposal said that the Asian languages need their own department.
“I don’t see how anyone can be against this proposal,” said Rick McCormick, associate professor of German.
However, members of the Chinese language program say that the proposal fails to fix problems plaguing Asian language programs in the University.
Yu-Shih Chen, chairman of the Chinese language program, said not only was the proposal made against University guidelines, but that the committee isn’t representing anyone from the current Chinese language program to head the new department.
“It is a very distant relation to what is going on in the trenches,” Chen said. “The proposition is quite alienated from the student body.”
Chen said a search committee was established to find a chairperson for the new department before the proposal was voted on Tuesday, a violation of University rules.
Additionally, the proposal is moving in the reverse direction from what the program needs, said Judy Schermer, Chen’s attorney. New professors need to be hired to lessen the workload on Chen and get them trained before another professor in the program retires.
Students from the Chinese language program went on a hunger strike in April to protest what they saw as “four years of neglect and discrimination by the University against the program.”
A lawsuit dated Oct. 9 filed by Chen and language professor Stephen Wang alleges that the University has racially discriminated against them.
The complaint states that the University discriminated against Chen by “creating and condoning a hostile and oppressive work environment.”
Wang alleges he is discriminated against through his salary. According to the faculty merit salary worksheet for the department, Wang receives $37,493 a year, an amount less than most assistant professors in the same department.
Schermer said the University has conducted a “Band-Aid approach” to the Asian languages by hiring temporary faculty that come and go, which does not solve any long-term problems. Schermer added that the University needs to hire more full-time professors.