UW-L Hmong students urge university officials to keep language course

UW-L Hmong students urge university...

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Hmong students at UW-La Crosse are expressing concerns over what they say is continued marginalization on campus.

Students from the Hmong Organization Promoting Education on campus say they feel their voices are not being heard.

They're concerned that an advanced Hmong language class isn't being offered anymore. They say this is just another example of UWL not following through with its message of diversity and equity.

The campus currently offers a Hmong language course for those who want to learn how to speak and write in the langauge.

But in the past, another course was offered for native Hmong speakers to learn about the culture and history.

That class isn't currently offered and whether or not it will be in the future, isn't clear.

"Students are the ones consuming these classes right? So why can't we have a say in if we get to have these classes or what we want to learn about, what we get to learn about," said UWL student Vandali Vang.

UWL Provost Vice Chancellor Betsy Morgan says the university is still giving everyone a chance to learn the language, and culture and history can be taught through alternative ways.

"So for instance if a student says having a language class helps me connect with my culture, and then we can say what other ways can students experience that if not directly through a language class?," Morgan said.

While students feel they should have a say in whether or not the advanced class is offered, Morgan says it's not the student's role to be involved in curriculum.

Hmong language professor Bee Lo says regardless of whether or not enough students are enrolled in advance language classes, the opportunity should still be there.

"By losing the Hmong culture and language, a lot of the Hmong students cannot speak with their parents, their parents cannot speak back to them and a long with the wisdom, the knowledge of the culture," Lo said.

Lo says he's concerned about the university's commitment to keep Hmong langauge classes altogether as the university has not asked him to teach next semester.

But provost Betsy Morgan says Hmong classes will always be offered.

When it comes to classes with small enrollments, a 'distance learning' opportunity is available where professors from other universities can teach a language through videos that UWL facilitators can show in class.

UWL currently has about 100 Hmong students enrolled on campus.


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