Last October, Keene State College’s German minor program was put on administrative hold, propelling students to protest and raise awareness in order to halt the process. Their efforts were successful, when four months later, the program was reinstated.
In an article written by Kendall Pope titled Administrative hold on German minor removed, it was stated that former KSC Arts and Humanities Dean Andrew Harris had sent an e-mail out explaining students could still enroll in and declare the minor. Harris stated, “I am also pleased to report that the School of Arts and Humanities has committed to at least three years of staffing for the German minor.”
KSC Contract Lecturer of Modern Languages and Cultures Alison Pantesco said having the program reinstated has been amazing for her and the students. “The efforts to reinstate the minor came first from students, followed by faculty and community members,” she said. “I believe it is important for us all to support programs that we consider valuable to our students’ liberal arts education.”
Those passionate about the languagewrote letters, made a petition with over 800 signatures and had a protest march on campus. “I was personally quite moved by the support. It was [a]clear and unified message about the importance of the program and I have to believe the decision to reinstate the German minor came as a consequence of these efforts, along with the fact that enrollment in the classes was strong. Currently, there are 28 KSC students with declared German minors,” she said.
Pantesco said this year has been an active one for these students. “First, at the end of October, we had 20 Austrians visit German classes. KSC students were prepared with interviews for the visiting students from Salzburg, Austria, all in German, of course.”
In early November, Pantesco said her and KSC senior Ryan Calabrese presented a piece titled “Bring Mozart (and our students) to Life!” to the New Hampshire Association World Language Teachers Conference. The piece was done entirely in German.
On Nov. 9, there was a luncheon and ceremony celebrating Keene’s relationship with their sister city Einbeck, Germany. “[Consul General of Germany] Dr. Ralf Horlemann was awarded the key to the city of Keene,” Pantesco said. “One of our students Tori Tucker sang a song from Mozart das Musical as a gift from the German students.”
KSC senior Tori Tucker said she felt honored to be a part of this event, noting she was inspired by his words. “While he addressed the German students (the day after the election), he couldn’t emphasize enough how important it is to be accepting of other cultures and to learn languages and reach out to other parts of the world,” she said.
Tucker said being involved with the German minor program has allowed her to become more open-minded to other cultures of the world. “Young people should be able to have the ability to learn languages and [learn] about other cultures,” she said. “It is incredibly important in our modern world to be able to reach out to other countries, especially Germany since it has grown so much economically and politically. With Brexit now in effect, it could be argued that Germany is the most powerful country in the E[uropean] U[nion] and opportunities will be missed out on if Americans can’t communicate with them.”
Tucker explained when the German minor was on administrative hold, it wasn’t so much a fear of individually not being able to finish the program. “What was important about allowing the program to carry on was so that future students would be able to explore the German language and gain from it the way that I have,” she said. Tucker said she minored in the program because she has family in Germany and wants to better understand them.
KSC alumna Amie Gagnon graduated with a double major in Spanish and women’s and gender studies. She said she uses Spanish quite frequently at her job, but still enjoyed the German minor classes she took while at Keene State. “I actually didn’t complete the German minor, but that’s not without regret. I just couldn’t finish it with all of the other classes I had to take,” she said. “I still use German though and listen to it when I can, and I love singing the songs from my German class.”
Gagnon said standing up for oneself is very important. “It’s important to fight for what we believe in because it is the only way to bring about the change necessary to make this world a better, safer place.”
Dorothy England can be contacted at email@example.com