Letter to the Editor: ‘Endangered Language’ story is counter-productive

Dear Editor-in-Chief:

I am writing to express my shock and dismay at the article that was published in the Lanthorn on Monday (Feb. 13), titled “Endangered Language.”

Polish is a valued language in Modern Languages and Literatures department and one that I personally support strongly and wouldlike to see succeed and grow. I see Polish as a unique offering at GVSU, and I would like to see it offered to the GVSU community.

You may be interested to know that the department is planning to offer Polish next year and that we have included Polish classes in our 2012-2013 schedule (which by the way was submitted to the college and registrar last semester).

You may also be interested to know that the trip to the Polish consulate in Chicago (referenced in the article) received departmental support, which is one indication of the department’s interest and commitment to this program.

Having said that, I want to express my strong disappointment at the Lanthorn’s irresponsible and one-sided reporting. I wonder if an editor vetted this article? Is there a regular vetting process for all articles? I wonder what type of journalistic rigor the Lanthorn has?

Publishing an article that is factually incorrect and that takes one side of the story is simply irresponsible and unprofessional. For example, the article states as fact that the “department of modern languages and literatures has expressed the desire to close the program” and that “the modern languages and literatures department does not advertise the Polish program to the same degree that it advertises its more popular programs.”

These statements are simply untrue, false statements. How did you come up with these conclusions? How is it possible that someone takes such statements and publishes them as fact without even bothering to contact the department and inquire about this information?

The article, in addition, is counter-productive on all levels. Most importantly, if we want to give the writer and the Lanthorn the benefit of the doubt (i.e, that this article is well-intentioned to bring a discussion to the fore), I would argue that such a discussion would happen in a very small circle and the end result, instead, is that the article actually creates a sense among students that this language is about to go, so why even bother to take it?

I wish the Lanthorn would write about how offering Polish enriches the university, bringing attention to it in a positive way, opening students’ eyes to the possibility of taking it.