By Michael P. Garrett
Editor’s note: To listen to Schauwecker’s full story, see audio story below
Lauren Schauwecker, a junior from Lenexa, took 19 credit hours of 300 or above level Spanish courses, but had to stop taking Spanish classes because she switched majors and no longer had time for Spanish courses. At most other universities, 19 credit hours would at least give Schauwecker a minor in Spanish, even though she dropped the major.
“It would be nice to have something to show for the hard work that I have put in,” Schauwecker said.
Currently, KU is the only school in the Big 12 Conference that doesn’t offer a Spanish minor. KU students that want to learn Spanish have no other option but to major in Spanish.
But in fall of 2012, KUnited, a coalition of student senators, made substantial progress on forming a Spanish minor. With a 68-3-0 vote, the KU Student Senate passed a resolution to support the creation of a Spanish minor. With the upcoming elections on April 12, the further development of the Spanish minor is an important issue to both KUnited and Ad Astra, an opposing coalition.
Each spring, the KU student body elects a president and a vice president. Each team runs as a ticket laying out three or four issues they would like to focus on in the following school year. Last spring KUnited, led by Student Body President Hannah Bolton and Student Body Vice President Brandon Woodard, ran on the platform of creating a Spanish minor at KU.
Woodard, the current student body vice president, is running again for the KUnited coalition, this time for president.
Woodard said he is going to spend the rest of his current term advocating for the implementation of the Spanish minor. Now that the resolution to support the Spanish minor has passed, the biggest challenge is getting administration to implement and approve a plan.
“The ball is now in the court of the Department and the Dean of the College,” Woodard said. “We have heard back from the chair of the department that a formal proposal has been submitted to the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.”
Stuart Day, Department Chair for the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, said some obstacles are still impeding the creation of the Spanish minor.
“A Spanish minor would require additional classes be offered, and to do this we would need additional funding,” Day said. “We are currently working with the Dean of the College to look for ways to make the minor happen.”
Woodard hopes that even if KUnited were to lose the election, the implementation of the Spanish minor would still move forward.
“If KUnited were to not end up successful in the upcoming election, it is my hope that the new president and vice president would see the importance of this opportunity at KU and would further the efforts of implementing a Spanish Minor at KU,” Woodard said.
Presidential candidate for Ad Astra Marcus Tetwiler said they intend to continue KUnited’s efforts to push for a Spanish minor.
“I’m not the candidate that wishes to burn bridges,” Tetwiler said. “All options should be on the table and be considered. I know that the minor is quite popular among students.”
Tetwiler is looking forward to working with administration to see the minor become a reality.
“The idea is sound, but the next step will be working with the administration to get the job done in the most prudent and responsible manner possible,” Tetwiler said.
Lauren Schauwecker: I stared taking Spanish, well I took it one year in elementary school in like fifth grade and then they stopped offering it because of budget cuts. And then in middle school I took an introductory class to Spanish and French, and I decided that I would like to learn Spanish more. And so I took one year in middle school and then I took Spanish all four years in high school, making it up to Spanish five. And then the summer before college I took the entrance test to see which class I would be placed in because I wanted to continue it in college just so that I would become fluent or know the language better. And i was placed in one of the 200 level classes. I loved taking all the classes. I took one or two each semester until this year. And I really enjoyed learning all about the cultural in Spanish speaking countries and learning more about the grammar and becoming better at writing and reading Spanish. However, I decided to switch my major this year to Human Biology because it was Math and Spanish. Because I switched it, I no longer had time to take all of the Spanish classes that I needed to major in it. Right now I have 19 credit hours of Spanish that are 300 level and above and at any other college that would be enough to have a minor. And so, it’s kind of frustrating because I have really nothing to show for it except for I could say that I was semi-fluent in Spanish but i don’t have a minor to show that. It’s not that I necessarily would have wanted to minor in Spanish from the start, however it would be nice to have something to show for the hard work that I have put in.