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

Tennis Swinging Strong at Mid-Season Mark

Written by Darcy Waskiewicz, Sports Editor

Now at the halfway point of the spring season, the Furman men’s and women’s tennis team are soaring. The men’s team is coming off a dominant win against University of Richmond, while the women are swinging strong while on a seven-game winning streak. With the Southern Conference Championship in April rapidly approaching, both teams look to continue their success. 

After their six-game winning streak was snapped with a 3-4 loss to Charlotte on Feb. 16, the Paladins bounced back the next game, and defeated University of Richmond 6-1 at home. The 21st nationally ranked duo of Jake Bhangdia and Jake Munns led the charge in doubles competition, and the Paladins finished with a complete sweep of the Spiders in that event.  Furman also dominated in singles competition, winning five of their six matches. Jake Munns was also named SoCon men’s tennis player of the week for competition from the week of Feb. 2-8 following the Paladin’s six game winning streak. 

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Furman Defeats Rival Wofford in White-Out at the Well

Written by Lane Fahey, Editor-in-Chief

It was a thrilling game, to say the least. This past weekend, the men’s basketball team concluded the Weekend at the Well series against Southern Conference rival, the Wofford Terriers. The teams went back and forth the whole game, but at the buzzer, Furman led to victory, 67-66. Over 6,000 people were in attendance. 

The game was low scoring for the beginning of the first half, which continued to go back and forth on which team was in the lead. Towards the end of the first half, Wofford gained a lead on the Paladins, and the score was 33-26 at halftime.

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Influential Paladin: Natalie Srinivasan

Written by Darcy Waskiewicz, Sports Editor

Natalie Srinivasan is having an exceptional start to her final year on the Furman women’s golf team. After finishing her junior year ranked 42nd nationally, Furman senior Srinivasan entered the golf season being named Golfweek Preseason All-America third team. Since then, Srinivasan has been named the Southern Conference Women’s Golfer of the Week twice, as well as claiming first place wins in multiple invitationals. 

Srinivasan began her season with a tie for 16th place out of ninety-three participants at the Cougar Classic and helped lead the Paladins to a tie for 5th place. She was named the Southern Conference Women’s Golfer of the Week the following week of Sept. 4-10. 

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Furman Lacrosse Won’t Re(LAX)

Written by Kristen Janes, Staff Writer

Furman lacrosse began their spring season with a handful of Southern Conference honors, and a snowy Saturday game. 

Furman’s Lady Paladins start their season as the reigning SoCon Regular Season Champions after an 11-8 record. Two of last year’s top three scorers, junior Hannah Demis and senior Grace Pollak, returned to the offensive scheme on a high note.  

Pollak and Demis led the Paladin’s to their 14-11 home-opening win over East Carolina, each recording five goals on the day. Teammates Leah Nonnenmann and Sydney Catts tallied two goals a piece, and freshman goalkeeper Megan Deehan recorded six saves in her first career start. Furman women swept the SoCon honors of the week, with Pollak earning offensive player of the week, and Deehan earning defensive. 

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Senioritis Stories, Vol. 11: My Newest Vice is Tap Tap Fish

Written by Maddie De Pree, Columnist

The past few weeks have been a bit rough, to say the least. Between a grad school rejection, senior year stress, and this interminable winter rain, I’ve been wearing thin. My anxiety has skyrocketed, my assignments are late, and graduation is approaching at warp speed. With all of these stressors, I’ve been desperate for a mental escape—something that both soothes and distracts, something that can carry me through to spring break as I slog through the next few weeks of my busy Furman life.

Enter Tap Tap Fish, a game that I played religiously while I was abroad during sophomore year and promptly forgot about upon arriving back in the States. For those of you who have blessedly never downloaded this app: it is entirely purposeless. You barely even have to look at the screen while you play it. The single objective of the game is to tap your phone’s screen to generate “vitality,” which you can then use to grow corals and create new fish. You can also change the color of the water and the reef to make your aquarium as visually appealing as possible. (Not that anyone asked, but after much tapping, I’ve managed to make my whole reef— and all of my fish—pink.)

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Behind the Scenes of ‘Mamma Mia’

Written by Mckenzie Gibel, Staff Writer

This year, I had the privilege of being cast in the ensemble of the Pauper Player’s latest hit musical production: Mamma Mia. There were many challenges, but in the end, it all came together and we put on a great show!

“For almost the whole rehearsal process we didn’t have many props, or a set, or even a big enough space to rehearse the big dance numbers. The most magical part of the show was the first time we did a full dress rehearsal in McAlister with all of our costumes, props, and sets. All of a sudden, the show became a show,” Ella Morton (Lisa) said.

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Ybarra Wins First Paladin Pitch Competition

Written by Will Przedpelski, Content Editor

The Furman Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (FI&E) held its first annual Paladin Pitch Competition on Saturday, Feb. 22 in McAlister Auditorium. The event featured six Furman student-teams pitching their best business ideas. The competition attracted hundreds of students, alumni, and community members. Sophomore Sam Ybarra took home the $10,000 prize for best pitch with his business Spectrum Tiny Homes. 

Ybarra’s company plans to sell tiny houses to people living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. As he explained in his presentation, the problem his company confronts is that many high functioning spectrum individuals struggle have a particularly hard time finding independent living facilities that cater to their specific needs. 

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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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