At Boston University and Northeastern, students can fulfill their schools' language requirements by studying American Sign Language. But not at Harvard.
In an opinion piece in the Crimson, Harvard's venerable student newspaper, freshman David Lynch argues this week that ASL needs to be recognized and taught as a bona fide language.
The university's position is that this recognition depends on a language having a "written component."
"At its core," Lynch writes, "the purpose of language is communication and doubting a people’s language merely because one cannot 'write it' is fundamentally discriminatory. By instilling within students’ minds that ASL is a fun elective but not a legitimate language due to its failure to have a stereotypical 'written component,' Harvard is essentially claiming that those who use American Sign Language are not actually using language."
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