The new American Sign Language Club held its first meeting Monday afternoon on the Downtown campus, and despite a low turnout, members discussed future plans for the club.
During the meeting, club President Michelle Rivas and Vice President Vaughn Hillyard laid out their goals for the new organization.
“We want the club to create an outlet for students at ASU that are interested in interacting with the deaf community, whether students know ASL or not,” Hillyard said.
Rivas, a sophomore at the Walter Cronkite School, started the club this semester after taking SHS 101, or American Sign Language I, in the fall.
“I had an interest in ASL, and I wanted to start something downtown,” she said.
Donna Leff, the ASL teacher for the Downtown campus, is now the ASL Club’s faculty adviser. Since Leff is deaf herself, she communicates with students through sign language.
The downtown organization is now the only sign language club available to students at ASU. A chapter of the ASL Club in Tempe was recently inactivated.
According to the ASU website, the university offers four ASL classes that students can take to fill their language requirement. There are two ASL classes downtown this semester with about 25 students in each class.
“The club is a good way to network and meet new people while practicing something that we are learning,” Rivas said.
Only one student attended the meeting besides Rivas and Hillyard. The club promoted the meeting on their Facebook page and sent out an e-mail to ASL students on all four ASU campuses.
“Every ASL student got an e-mail, so about 600 students got the e-mail,” Rivas said.
Rivas and Hillyard say they plan to increase recruitment efforts in the next few weeks.
“Now that we have all of the paperwork out of the way, we can focus on getting students involved,” Rivas said. “There is a lot of potential.”
Rivas plans to have “deaf chats” once a month to give students the opportunity to get involved in the deaf community.
During “deaf chats, we will have people from the ASL community come in to interact with students,” she said.
Deaf chats are meant to build relationships between club members and the deaf community.
“The more people we can get to be a part of the deaf community, the better it is for all of us,” Hillyard said. “Language should not be a barrier between people.”
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