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Institute should offer Chinese language courses

We are a group of students who would like MIT to initiate Chinese language and literature classes on campus. There are many students who are currently taking Chinese classes at Wellesley College and Harvard University through exchange and cross-registration programs. Many students also register for the intensive Chinese language course offered at Wellesley during Independent Activities Period. On a campus where the Chinese (and Asian) student body comprises one of the largest ethnic groups, it is important not to neglect subjects on Chinese and other Asian cultures.

Many more MIT students would register in these courses if the additional paperwork and extra time needed for traveling to the other campuses were eliminated. Since language courses usually meet four times a week, in addition to laboratory assignments, the tight schedules of most students do not permit the extensive travel time required. Informal verbal surveys show a large number of students who want to take a Chinese language course as well as students who desire a concentration in Chinese culture, but who are deterred due to inconvenience of time and location.

Undergraduate and graduate student bodies, both Chinese and non-Chinese, have shown a large interest in Chinese language classes in the recent past. From 1976 to 1980, Chinese language courses were offered as an exchange program in which a professor from Wellesley College traveled to the MIT campus. Two courses were set up initially but were expanded to four by 1980. These courses were very popular and were filled to "overflowing" during those years, according to the 1976-77 Report of the President. We would like to see Chinese courses reinstated on the MIT campus -- this time as part of the formal curriculum.

On the international scale, the Far East is a significant factor in world affairs. Many Chinese-speaking regions, such as China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, are emerging in the world arena, especially in the areas of manufacturing, manpower, natural resources, and technology. A knowledge of the Chinese language and culture would benefit those who want to understand and participate in these affairs. With over one billion people in the world who speak Chinese, MIT students and graduates can effect a greater impact on these events if they understand Chinese.

MIT has been enhancing its role in cultural education through new requirements for the study of humanities, arts, and social sciences. China possesses a unique and long-lasting culture with a history of 5000 years. Colleges and universities all over the United States offer language and literature courses for studying Chinese culture. As one of the top universities in the world, MIT draws students from every nationality. An international university with such a diverse population, including a large percentage who are of Asian descent, should not fall behind in its teaching of Asian studies, in this case, Chinese language and literature. We believe that the addition of Chinese classes to MIT's curriculum would further these improvements by offering a fresh perspective in language and cultural studies.

Chinese Students Club->

Rebecca Kao '90->


Chinese Language->

on Campus Committee->

Yeuk Yuan '90->

CSC President->