On a beautiful Easter Sunday afternoon, the University of Oregon is deserted. Most students have gone home for the weekend, or are out exploring the spring sunshine, putting school out of their heads in favor of a relaxing day. The humanities neighborhood is empty, which makes maneuvering through the buildings easy and peaceful. Other than a few students walking to the Knight Library to study, or the occasional graduate student in an office, campus is uninhabited and silent. The University of Oregon is like a silent oasis, hiding from the weekend bustle encompassing the rest of the city of Eugene.
However, in the basement of Friendly Hall, home of the Department of Romance Languages, Dylan Gillispie is slipping a piece of paper beneath the office door of his Spanish professor. Gillispie headed into campus on Easter, to drop off an assignment for his 300-level Spanish class. Despite his main focus in school being business, Gillispie is working towards earning a minor in Spanish as well.
Gillispie is a 22-year-old senior in college, and he feels like most students overlook the language programs at UO.
“Most kids take language because they have to, not because they actually want to,” said Gillispie.
Gillispie is correct. In order to receive a Bachelor of Arts degreefrom the University of Oregon, students must take two years worth of the same foreign language. After this requirementis completed, students have the option to continue taking language courses. However, most students take their required two years and then stop their language classes, never continuing on to the upper-divisioncourses.
Gillispie hopes that through his involvement in the Spanish program, the connections he’s made with professors there, and his fluency in the language, he will be more likely than some of his peers to secure a job after graduating from college. In a strained economy with high unemployment rates, Gillispie believes it is important to do everything you can to secure a job.
“A lot of guys I know, they don’t see the value in it (taking upper-division language courses) and all the opportunities it can offer you in the long-run,” said Gillispie.
Some undergraduate students use their time in the language department to study abroad. This provides them with an authentic cultural understanding and first-hand knowledge of a foreign country, that they would be unable to experience outside of their respective language program. According to Gillispie, the professors in the language programs work hard to provide their students with a solid language curriculum, which includes a strong historical and cultural understanding of the language as well.
Gillispie hopes that despite the poor state of the economy and the real struggle to find work that Americans are facing today, the extra time he has spent in the language department at the University of Oregon will help him find employment over many of his peers.