Editorial: Tufts should reconsider eligibility requirements for Spanish, French minors

In the past, the lack of opportunity to minor in Spanish or French frustrated many students in the School of Arts and Sciences (A&S). Starting Jan. 1, 2019, the Department of Romance Studies will offer a minor in both French and Spanish to all A&S students. This addition will be very beneficial to the university and to students wanting to study French or Spanish, but questions remain regarding the eligibility requirements for the program.

Brenna Heitzman, lecturer in French, and Anne de Laire Mulgrew, senior lecturer in Spanish, are both optimistic and enthusiastic about the addition of these new minors. They expressed that the motivation behind this new minor was discussed among faculty for several years due to immense student interest. The main factor behind the addition of the minor was that it is extremely difficult for students starting in French or Spanish 1, 2 and 3 to major in the language due to the extensive course load. The minor now allows for students to pursue the language in a feasible way. Only students who started in Spanish or French 1, 2 or 3 are eligible for the minor. The French minor requires 4, 21, 22, 31, 32 and a 100-level course in literature or culture. On the other hand, the Spanish minor requires 4 or 5, 21, 22 or 23, two 30-level courses and one 100-level course.

Although this is an exciting new revelation, students who started in levels above Spanish/French 1, 2 and 3 are disappointed that they cannot pursue a minor in either language. Granted that it is easier for these students to major in either language, it is still 10 extra courses that they have to take and the major only begins to count at the 22 level. The major is extremely intensive, especially for people who are already double majoring in other demanding areas of study. The French major requires 10 courses: 22, 31, 32, four 100-level courses in literature, two 100-level advanced language and culture courses, and one course taught in a related field in any language or another 100-level culture or literature course. The Spanish major requirements are similar: 22 or higher, two literature courses, three 100-level courses, three additional higher-level courses and an additional course which may be in English and vary in topic.

There is a vast difference between the minor and the major which makes it extremely difficult for students who started above French or Spanish 3 to pursue their interest in the language, especially if they are already pursuing a difficult major or double majoring. This hinders their ability to pursue a passion that they have in Romance languages and can be quite frustrating and discouraging. Students should be able to get a degree in Spanish or French based on their proficiency rather than the number of years they have spent studying the language and where they started in their requirements.

This addition of a minor in French and Spanish is appealing and intriguing for many and it is true that it is not possible to please everyone, but the Tufts Department of Romance Studies should look into ways to make an exception for students who started above Spanish/French 3 who are extremely passionate about the language, but cannot feasibly manage a major in the language due to course overload. A slight shift in the eligibility requirement will be for the benefit of students.