By: Jess Ward, News Editor

On Friday, Oct. 6, the linguistics department debuted their new office space, in the A-wing of the Science Building. Rooms 305 and 310 are open to all linguistics and language students, and 410 is a Deaf space for students to communicate only in American Sign Language (ASL).

The space in 305 includes a library, sound proof booth, and tutoring resources for students to use as a study space and experimentation lab. Across the hall, 310 includes the offices of the linguistics staff, but is still completely open to students to work in and meet with professors. 410 is ideal for ASL students to host study groups and meetings, and for Deaf community events.

This year the linguistics department, headed by Professor Dana McDaniel, absorbed all of USM’s foreign language programs. Languages offered include ASL, Spanish (SPA), German (GER), French (FRE), Arabic (ARA), Chinese (CHI), and Italian (ITA). Students studying any of these languages are welcome to use the linguistics office, and the library in 305 includes a section dedicated to foreign language study.

The opening of the office was met with an excited group of students and professors, celebrating their new offices and resources. Lucy Shulman, a senior in the undergraduate linguistics program, says she feels like the new office space legitimizes the department. “We were shoved off to the side,” she says, referring to the previous office on Exeter Street. Since the office has been moved closer and made more open, Shulman says she feels “more a part of stuff.”

This feeling is mirrored by several of the attendees to Friday’s event, including Sandra Wood, an Assistant Professor in the linguistics and ASL programs. Wood joined the staff in August, and thinks the space will be good for building a stronger sense of Deaf community on campus.

Nicole Stepensky, another ASL student who transferred from another university, agrees with Wood. Stepensky says that the inclusion of a Deaf space shows that “Deaf people are equal,” and that her previous school did not have a space like this for linguistics students. “It’s awesome to have all your people together,” she says.

McDaniel says that that is the goal of the space, to have “a more open design, and be more communal.” There are kitchens in both 305 and 410 so that students can have lunch meetings, and the faculty are “here as resources” for students who may need help outside of class, or who want to discuss topics and ideas not covered in their courses.

The office spaces require key card access to use, but Kelly Fitzgerald, the Administrative Specialist for the department, can usually be found in 310 between 8 and 4:30. The spaces do not require reservations to be used, but to insure that the offices are unlocked you can email Dana McDaniel at [email protected].


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