Recent Updates

Newswatch September 22nd, 2016


Students are petitioning for Arabic minor at Iowa State University




By Tisa Tollenaar


Following the success of a student petition for an American Sign Language minor at Iowa State University, students enrolled in Arabic courses have started their own petition for the addition of an official Arabic Language and Culture minor.

The petition was started by Naomi Biela, an undeclared freshman who speaks the language at an intermediate level. Biela started the petition because she feels the minor would “give students credit for work they have already done.”

Currently, there are Arabic language courses up to the intermediate level, ARABC 201 and 202. Students thereafter can expand their skills and learn about Arabic culture through study abroad opportunities or independent study. There isn’t a 300-level Arabic language course offered but an experimental culture course, ARABC 375X, has been added to the spring 2017 schedule of classes.

The Arabic program is small, but mighty, and there are a lot of opportunities inside and outside of class for students to get involved in learning,” Biela says.

According to the website of the World Languages and Cultures department of Iowa State, the existing minor programs require between 15 and 21 credits to complete. After a student satisfactorily completes all Arabic courses through ARABC 202, they will have obtained 16 credits toward a minor. The Arabic department, with the addition of the new experimental course and classes taken when studying abroad, offers a total of 25 credits, which is more than the recently added American Sign Language minor. Biela’s petition requests the addition of 300-level language courses and the consideration of non-Arabic courses – such as history, political science and religion courses specific to Arabic-speaking areas.

Biela said that Arabic is considered a “critical language.” Many federal and governmental job opportunities are promoting competence in Arabic language and culture. In her petition, Biela claims that Arabic is the fifth most spoken language in the world.

“It is very relevant in our world today and provides a great starting point to learn many other languages,” says Biela.

Emily Bannantine, a junior double majoring in political science and international studies, believes that it would not only be important for job placement after graduation but that an Arabic minor would increase enrollment prospects at the Iowa State.

When I was trying to decide where to go for college, I intended to go to a university that had a larger Arabic program originally,” she says.

Enrollment in Arabic classes is increasing significantly. There were almost 70 students registered in the three offered Arabic courses for fall 2016. Currently, there is only one lecturer, Ghinwa Alameen. Both Bannantine and Biela credit Alameen with the current success and enrollment rate of students in Arabic courses.

“Arabic is kind of a daunting language at first, but she did a great job of pulling it apart and showing us that if we take it slowly, there was no reason we couldn’t master it,” Bannantine says. “That was really encouraging for me, as I’m sure it was with other students.”

Ghinwa is the backbone of the whole operation; she makes herself available at all times for questions and ideas, and is always ready to get involved,” says Biela.

Both students are hoping to bring more attention to their effort in hopes that it will sway the World Languages and Cultures department to add the minor.

“The demand is here now, we just need to act on it,” Bannantine says.

To ask questions about or sign the petition mentioned in the article, contact Naomi Biela (



Starbucks CEO Steps Down



The CEO of Starbucks has stepped down, but already has a successor to take the company over. Howard Schultz is known for establishing more than 20,000 stores in 75 countries. He also made the company more vocal on issues such as gun violence, gay rights, race relations, veterans rights, and student debt. He has decided to hand the company over to longtime friend, Kevin Johnson, who is current president of the company and member of the board. Schultz was quoted saying that Johnson is “better equipped” at running the company. The hand over will officially go into effect on April 3rd of next year.