Marquette Wire

Petition for Arabic major circulates among students, faculty

Arabic+Language+and+Culture+Club+member+Audrey+Lodes+practices+Arabic+calligraphy.+Wire+Stock+Photo
Arabic Language and Culture Club member Audrey Lodes practices Arabic calligraphy. Wire Stock Photo

Arabic Language and Culture Club member Audrey Lodes practices Arabic calligraphy. Wire Stock Photo

Arabic Language and Culture Club member Audrey Lodes practices Arabic calligraphy. Wire Stock Photo

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Students are actively pursuing the creation of an Arabic major with a petition that is circulating campus.

The university only offers an Arabic minor. Pending review of the university and the Languages, Literatures and Cultures department, students are hoping to see the major in place for the 2018-’19 academic year.

Arabic, one of the critical languages labeled by the U.S. government, is an official language of the United Nations and is spoken in 22 countries.

Students have been asking for an Arabic major for years because it is a unique quality when applying for jobs and graduate school, Ibtisam Abujad, a visiting instructor of Arabic, said.

During her first semester at Marquette, a freshman asked Abujad how to major in Arabic. She told the student he had to minor because that was the only option, and he refused.

“How do you answer the question of why there is no major and why he can’t pursue this?” Abujad said. “Where can you go to major in Arabic and what university has this major? That was a problem because we want students to stay at Marquette.”

Most students who come to Arabic classes want to further their study, Enaya Othman, assistant professor of Arabic, said.

“(They can) improve on the assumption that this will increase their chances of finding jobs which would enhance their life, fulfill their ideal and serve the world community, giving them more understanding and respect (for others),” Othman said.

Members of Arabic club are also involved in spreading the petition.

Claire Weber, Arabic club president, said the club drafted the petition and sent it to Abujad to be revised. Club members are going around asking students and faculty to sign, and also looking for students who can write one page letters saying why they think the major would be helpful and benefit the university.

If approved, the university will need to hire more professors as there are only two teaching language courses. The major would incorporate influences from language, religion, history and culture.

Abujad said Marquette is not only looking at this program as an option for students to study, but to expand into the growing Arab and Muslim community in the greater Milwaukee area, something that students are trying to get involved and connect with.

“I would like Marquette to look at this as not only a positive for students, but a positive for campus,” Abujad said. “It will bring in more applications, create a diverse community, and in the future students will credit their success back to the university.”

Allie Bitz, senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and executive vice president of Marquette University Student Government, credits some of her best memories at Marquette from experiences provided by the Arabic program.

“The addition of an Arabic major will benefit the University by giving students another opportunity to engage with diverse cultures and ideas,” Bitz said. The people Bitz met through Arabic classes allowed her to encounter a range of experiences that she never had growing up in suburban Wisconsin.

“Out of all the experiences I’ve had at Marquette, being a part of Arabic classes has been the most like being a part of a family.”

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