By: David Mehl  | 

Spanish Minors Attempt to Rectify Issues with Fall 2016 Spring Offerings

The class schedule for the Fall 2016 semester, released online on April 12, triggered an outcry among students in the Spanish department. Students were disappointed to find that the number of Spanish courses offered had been cut from five the previous semester to three. More concerning, students noticed that no courses in Advanced Spanish were being offered, even though it is a requirement for the Spanish minor that many of them are pursuing. Additionally, Intermediate Spanish I, another minor requirement and an option in the CUOT (Cultures Over Time) core category, was being given once instead of twice, and only at a time which conflicted with many students' YP shiur.

Together with their teacher, Graciela Bazet de Broitman, students brought their concerns to the dean's office. After some discussion, the Advanced Spanish class was reinstated, with an informal vote during an Intermediate Spanish II class determining the timeslot in which it would be offered. Intermediate Spanish I was also rescheduled, but problems still remain for many students. Eleven of these students signed on to a letter to Dean Karen Bacon written by Joey Jubas, who wrote of the troubles caused to him and his fellow signers by the downsizing of the Spanish department. "At the current time period of 3:00 p.m., I am unable to continue in this program, putting my core curriculum at YU as well as the potential of my minor at risk. Being a Pre-Engineering major requires me to take many math and science courses, many of which must be taken in order, and only offered once a semester." The letter also expresses worries that this semester's downsizing will only be the beginning: "We are all concerned about the future of our program," he added.

The decrease in Spanish course offerings is the result of Yeshiva's need to continue cutting costs as it continues recovering from years of fiscal mismanagement. With the Spanish program attracting fewer students than in previous years, it was a natural target for reductions.

Students extolled the value of the Spanish curriculum and expressed their disappointment that it was being downsized. "In other classes, you learn information that it's hard to see how it could be applicable in everyday life. Knowledge of Spanish is a tangible skill set that allows you to interact with new people in new ways, especially here in Washington Heights," said Ely Kaplan. Jesse Silverman, one of the signatories to the letter, added "As a pre-med student, having Spanish under my belt is a huge plus. In America, there’s a significant chance that knowing Spanish will be very helpful for communicating with my future patients." The changes could put a dent in those hopes.

Dr. Gabriel Cwilich, who helped the students press their case, agreed, but lamented the students' inconvenience as the inevitable troubles a small university faces due to its ability to offer only a limited number of classes. Yeshiva is trying to spark interest in learning Spanish with the upcoming summer honors trip to Mexico, he said, because the administration recognizes that Spanish is growing in importance for many professions.

As this story goes to press, students are still working with the dean's office to try work out a solution.