A Call to Action: International Students Fight for ESL Resources at Furman

Written by Christy Litz, Anna Zhang, Ada Zhao

***We acknowledge that not all international students are ESL students, yet most ESL students are internationals. We would use the words “ESL students” and “international students” interchangeably for the ease of expression. 

How many hours do you spend writing a five-page paper? Two, five, ten hours? 

But how long would it take you to write it in a non-native language? Four, ten, twenty hours? 

Think back to when you started college– you might have been in a new state, probably made some new friends, and ideally, learned some new things. Now imagine doing all of that, but in a new country, while learning and using a new language. Wouldn’t it be a relief to have a trusted person to assist you with the academic hurdle? 

One aspect that many internationals consider when applying for college is the academic support system provided. Currently, this system at Furman University is lacking an essential component. 

Recently, unbeknownst to the faculty and international student community, Furman University dismissed its only English as Second Language (ESL) specialist. This dismissal disappointed many at Furman because it eliminated the already scarce ESL resources, presumably impeding students’ academic growth and potential. 

American students might find public speaking difficult, but for an international student, the task is daunting and, at times, seemingly insurmountable. Many ESL students face challenges with their academics, such as spending at least twice as much time doing readings compared to native English speakers, devoting time and energy writing down and remembering every sentence they plan to say in class, and struggling to clarify and express their ideas during writing. The struggle of applying a foreign language to student life does not end when you leave the classroom, unlike the relief you get at the end of a typical 50-minute language class. 

Hopefully, at this point, you can empathize with some of what your international friends experience daily. Now it is imperative to understand the urgency and reasoning for hiring a new writing specialist. 

When one financially commits to a university, inherently, a contract has been formed. The student has agreed to pay a set amount for a particular set of services. At Furman, one of the fundamental academic services students pay for is the Center for Academic Success, and thus, access to a professional writing specialist. 

In addition to the ethical obligation of upholding the contract between student and university, there is also a pragmatic argument for why Furman should rehire an ESL specialist: Compared to 30 other similar liberal art colleges, which ranked from No. 25 to No. 55 on “U.S. News Best 

Liberal Art College Ranking,” Furman University (ranked No. 46) is one of only two colleges that does not have an available ESL resource (the other one ranked No. 43). If Furman wishes to move in a better direction, it should look to the top schools, because that is where we are going in the future. 

According to their website, the mission of the Center for Academic Success (CAS) is to ““support all students in achieving their academic potential and goals through individual and campus-wide initiatives that foster self-regulation and self-advocacy in academic and personal growth.” With the removal of ESL resources, the CAS does not support all Furman students, especially those who need it most. 

Filling the position would not only fulfill Furman’s institutional statement, but also contribute to students’ intellectual development. Everyone benefits from being a good writer and deserves to have the necessary resources to fulfill their academic goals and personal growth. This specialist would not just proofread and check for grammatical mistakes, but also cultivate and inspire students’ writing abilities, which eventually prepare them for “lives of purpose and accelerated career and community impact—demonstrating in concrete terms the value of a Furman education,” as the Furman Advantage promises. 

The current situation, in every respect, is directly opposed to the CAS’ mission statement and Furman University’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and academic excellence. Now, after seven weeks of advocacy to bring back ESL support, there is still no affirmative answer as to whether or not, or when, the university will hire another ESL specialist. 

We challenge Furman University– its students, faculty, staff, and administration– to honor the agreement between students and the university and rise up to the impeccable standard of academia it claims to hold. Show your support for all of Furman’s students by signing the petition.

https://www.change.org/p/furman-university-bring-back-furman-s-esl-resource

The Conestee Dam: A Dam Problem

Written by Ashley Frost, Contributor

“2.8 million tons of toxic sediment” is being held by the Conestee Dam, according to the Greenville News. “We roll the dice everyday” on whether or not it will burst, Dave Hagett, founder and director of the Conestee Foundation stated in an interview with the Greenville News.

The Conestee Dam was built downstream from the Conestee Mill in the 1840s for Vardy “Father of Greenville” McBee’s textile and paper production, according to the South Carolina Picture Project. Now, after centuries of waste has built up behind the dam,–and water already leaking through–we face a problem. Almost three tons of what is essentially toxic mud, held in place by a hand-made wall, is on the verge of its breaking point. If this dam bursts, it would create a massive, toxic mudslide flowing downstream from The Conestee Dam. 

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Loving Your Enemies at the National Prayer Breakfast

Written by Zachary Hughes, Contributor

“ACQUITTED,” read the USA Today issue that President Trump held aloft as he stood from his spot at the head table. “Trump Acquitted” read the next one he held up: The Washington Post. I had been invited to the 68th National Prayer Breakfast with a contingent of eighty other college students from around the country and world. Now we sat together, amongst political leaders and people of faith from all over the world, feasting on bagels and quiche, watching the president open his appearance with this newspaper bit, to a mixture of applause, laughter, and silence from the audience.

Before Trump rose to deliver his address at the 68th National Prayer Breakfast, holding his newspapers overhead, the keynote speaker, Harvard Professor, Arthur Brooks, offered remarks on the famous words of Jesus: “love your enemies.” Brooks’s words seemed especially apt, with President Trump on his right and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on his left, just two days after Trump’s (potential) handshake snub and Pelosi’s speech-tearing at the State of the Union Address. Political tensions were high—at the head table, in Washington, and in our country. It seemed like the perfect time to hear a brilliant professor oppose the contempt he believes is tearing our country apart in favor of the love he believes can save it.

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Letter to the Editor: In Response to “Self-Defense Should be a Main Focus on Campus”

Written by Chief John Milby, Furman Police

I enjoyed reading Onyx Hall’s recent article titled, “Self-Defense Should be a Main Focus on Campus.”  I share the author’s passion about personal safety, and wanted to share some thoughts on this important topic.  While state laws and the student handbook restrict the possession of certain weapons on campus, including tasers and stun guns, when you’re in danger, your most prized weapon won’t be your stun gun or your pepper spray.  What will be able to help you most is something you have with you all your life – your brain. According to Gavin De Becker, author of The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence, “You have the gift of a brilliant internal guardian that stands ready to warn you of hazards and guide you through risky situations.”  Too often, we ignore that “internal guardian,” our intuition, only to regret it later.  

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Housing Hypocrisy: Furman’s Policy Falls Short

Written by Evan Myers, News Editor

Furman regularly touts its connection with Greenville, and it should. The community surrounding campus is an enormous asset for students. Greenville offers students the opportunity to work fulfilling internships, eat great food, support worthwhile causes, and meet people that do not resemble the typical Furman student. Furman, on the other hand, brings wealth, reputation, and talent to the Upstate. In short, it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. Furman and Greenville know they are better together, and they support each other. 

Although Furman consistently promotes policies that strengthen ties between Greenville and the University, there is one glaring exception: the four year residency requirement. In enforcing this restrictive policy, Furman limits its students’ relationships with the greater Greenville community. Moreover, in light of the recent decision to eliminate the off-campus exemption for senior students living in fraternity houses, the University seems more determined than ever to keep students within the confines of the “Furman bubble.” 

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The Super Bowl Halftime Show Controversy

Written by Onyx Hall, Staff Writer

Shakira and Jennifer Lopez headlined the Super Bowl Halftime Show on Feb. 2. They gave a highly energetic, fun, and beautiful performance embracing their Hispanic heritage. The performance received some backlash from people saying that the performance was not family friendly. They were criticized for the dancing that was said to be too provocative. One tweet said Shakira was dancing like a stripper. Others were calling for the performers to “speak English.” Some went as far as to say that it was “Spanish porn” and criticized them for having the Colombian and Puerto Rican flag. People used all kinds of adjectives to call the performance “trashy” and “disgusting.”

I personally thought the performance was great and I am glad the women took the opportunity to show that part of their culture is beautiful and fun. Many Hispanics get bogged down by stereotypes and feel as though they cannot really express themselves. If a woman wants to be conservative and have a conservative performance she has every right to do that. If a woman wants to have a sensual performance she is also entitled to that as well. Sexuality should not be as taboo as it. It can be brought out as an art form and that is exactly what the women did. They displayed multiple cultures, including their own, to celebrate one of America’s largest cultural events of the year.

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Wellness Concepts Negatively Affects Students

Written by Anonymous, Contributor

Wellness—perhaps one of the most used, and most misunderstood, blanket terms of the decade. It is an entire category of podcasts on Spotify, a buzz-word for boutique workout studios and exorbitantly priced juice bars, and the catch-all term plastered onto the title of the required Furman class, “HSC-101 Wellness Concepts.” The ambiguity of the term cannot be overstated. What one considers “well” could be entirely contradictory to the conception of another. For example, a certain student might think limiting themselves to a single dining hall cookie a day would be the epitome of health, while another might completely avoid the dessert bar on the regular. One might think a nine-mile run seems perfectly acceptable, while their peer consistently gripes about the walk from Furman Hall to South Housing. Basically, wellness is entirely personal…so how can Furman teach a class on it? Well, let’s backtrack. There are certain aspects of wellness that are universal. Getting 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week is generally recommended, as is eating a well-balanced diet of fruit and vegetables. Basically, doing things to ensure your health, i.e. your body and not it’s aesthetics, is functioning at a baseline level so you don’t kneel over while climbing the ever-steepening stairs of your dorm seems like an agreed upon goal. But what happens when this all gets extreme, and conceptions become skewed so that pursuit of wellness actually becomes unhealthy? 

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The Advantages of a Same-Sex High School

Written by Abbey Morelli, Opinions Editor

In one of my classes this semester titled Philosophy of Sex and Love, we were discussing how clothing choices, whether revealing or more conservative, can impact how you feel about yourself.  The discussion was in reference to objectification (for the most part discussing the objectification of women). Students offered their own experiences regarding clothing in high school, dress codes, being cat called and why people choose to wear certain types of clothing— whether their choices were for themselves or for someone else. 

While I was sitting in class I began to think back to my own high school experience and realized I could not quite relate to feeling objectified in my clothing and feeling the need to impress someone.  Throughout those years, I attended an all-girls school in Massachusetts. There were forty girls in my graduating class and we got to know each other extremely well over the years, to say the least. Personally, I chose to attend an all-girls school, although there were some girls who did not have a say in the matter. Their parents sent them to the school to help their daughters focus more on school and have less distractions. While I did not quite realize it at the time, an all-girls school had significant advantages that stuck with me when I came to college. 

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2020-It’s a New Semester and a New Year

Written by Onyx Hall, Staff Writer

It’s a new semester and a new year.  I bought a new planner just to bring in good energy because it’s 4.0 season.  There are new classes, new professors and an entirely new workload. A piece of advice is to make sure to stay organized and stay on top of dates so you don’t fall behind.  Some new things that I have started doing this semester have included making sure to have my dates already outlined and planned ahead of time. I have been scheduling specific times to study for tests and making sure to set aside designated time to work on essays for my first year writing seminar.  I also have a specific time I go to the gym in order to make sure I get there as often as possible. 

Another piece of advice is to make sure to look into summer classes, May X’s, and internships if you are interested.  Some majors may require some type of internship and there are usually pretty good ones offered over the summer. I will be taking summer classes to get a number of my GERs out of the way because I know I am probably going to double major and I want to make sure I have a slightly more flexible schedule. Also if you have scholarships, summer classes can help boost your GPA. 

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Misconceptions of the Coronavirus are Spreading

Written by Abbey Morelli, Opinions Editor

The recent eruption of the coronavirus has brought with it side effects that are not all health related.  The new strain of virus was originally detected in Wuhan, China in December and has been described as a “deadly pneumonia-like virus.”  It presents itself with flu-like symptoms with the potential for pneumonia. There is no vaccine and antibiotics are not applicable for viral infections.  Those who suspect they were in contact with someone infected will be placed in isolation while being tested. 

There are many misconceptions about the virus, especially prevalent and spreading via social media platforms like Twitter and even Tiktok.  Unfortunately, people are being ruled by their fear of the virus and through false news. Instead of being sympathetic to those infected and being conscious of one’s own measures to remain healthy, people have turned the outbreak into a racial issue, condemning those infected and spreading rumors about the origin of the virus. People are turning their fear into hate and ignorance. 

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