At the faculty meeting on Monday, the Curriculum and Educational Policy Committee (CEP) announced its decision to add minors in Chinese and Japanese languages. This decision will apply to graduates of the Class of 2012.

The minors will consist of five courses: four language classes and one culture, literature or film class.

Until now, only language classes at the third-year level or above have counted toward the Asian studies major, which requires the study of an East or South Asian language. While the Asian studies minor does not require language study, two language courses can contribute to the minor if they are the same intermediate-advanced to advanced level.

Where other languages conduct three hours of class per week, plus one discussion hour with native-speakers at the intermediate levels, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic courses require five hours of class time. The new minors are aimed at recognizing the time and effort that goes into learning these languages.

"Japanese is a challenging enough language that we want to give the appropriate recognition for students who learn [it], and we feel that the minor will let them take [that] ownership," said Vyjayanthi Selinger, assistant professor of Asian studies and interim Japanese language coordinator

"Our data...suggests that a good number of students take the first two years of language and do not have it reflected on their transcripts," she said. "The new minor [will] acknowledge the efforts of these students and offer them recognition."

There are currently 40 students enrolled in the four levels of Chinese language offered. Twenty-four students are in the three levels of Japanese.

Associate Professor of Asian Studies and Chinese Language Coordinator Songren Cui expressed his hope that official recognition will encourage students to continue their language studies.

"It takes a lot of time and effort and commitment to study both Chinese and Japanese," he said.

According to Cui, a proposal was submitted by a group of students in 2003 asking for a Chinese minor, which was rejected. Another student petition brought Elementary Arabic to the College in fall of 2008. While the time and effort required to learn Arabic is similar to that needed to learn Chinese and Japanese, Bowdoin does not offer an Arabic minor. Russell Hopley is currently the only faculty member teaching Arabic.

Last spring, the College invited external reviewers from Mount Holyoke and Williams College to assess courses in Chinese, and from Amherst and Smith College to review those in Japanese. According to Associate Dean of Student Affairs Jim Higginbotham, the College invites consultants to review departments every 10 years or so.

The reviewers submitted a report to the Dean's Office in July suggesting that the College offer minors in these languages, on account of the fact that there are a sufficient number of faculty and all levels of the languages are taught. Each language has two full-time and one part-time faculty.

The Japanese consultants noted that there was "a widespread assumption on campus that only [Asian studies] majors and would-be majors can take Japanese." In addition to providing incentive for investments of time and energy, the minors would work to increase visibility.

Informed of the recommendation shortly after, the Chinese and Japanese faculty worked together to draft the minor proposal, which they submitted to the CEP last week.

Bowdoin joins peer schools Bates, Bryn Mawr, Colby, Middlebury, Mt. Holyoke, Smith, and Swarthmore in offering Japanese and Chinese minors. Williams, Carleton, and Amherst do not have minors in these departments. The structure of Bowdoin's minors will most closely reflect those of Swarthmore, Dickinson, and Mount Holyoke, where the languages are housed within an Asian studies program and can contribute to either the Asian studies major or a language-focused minor.