By Elizabeth Van Pilsum, Staff Writer
On Oct. 20, the American Sign Language (ASL) club at Saint Vincent College hosted a Halloween party open to everyone. The ASL Club is a relatively new club on campus that was started in the spring semester in 2021 by a group of students, and this year, the club is led by President Vincent Kashauer, a sophomore biochemistry major.
Recently, the ASL Club has increased its activities in order to become more active on campus. By the time of the Halloween Party, the club had already had four bi-weekly meetings this semester, a nature walk with the Bearcat B.E.S.T. program and a social media collaboration with the Office of Multicultural Student Life (OMSL). Roughly thirty people attend each meeting, and the club has a positive response from its members.
Mei Jenkins-Andrews, junior biology major, has loved learning the new signs each week, as well as meeting new people and making new friends. “I joined the club to learn ASL and to help with SVC becoming more inclusive,” Jenkins-Andrews said. “I’ve really enjoyed it, and I think it’s doing a great job with its mission.”
The Halloween party succeeded in furthering the club’s goal to teach ASL while having fun. The members were encouraged to dress up in costumes, which demonstrated its members’ creativity with characters such as Wednesday Adams, Achilles, Scream, and more. Kashauer taught Halloween-related signs in ASL like monster, candy, and spider, and club members munched on the snacks provided. Then, the club engaged in a game where the members were divided into teams and had to guess the Halloween-related sign based on context clues, fostering a friendly competition that encouraged learning the signs better.
“I feel like the party was a success,” Jenkins-Andrews said. “It was really fun to learn Halloween-themed signs and see everyone in costume, and I enjoyed the game.”
At the Halloween party, a petition for an introductory ASL course was passed around the room, which Kashauer and the other ASL club officers plan to bring to the college in hopes of change. The ASL club has 111 students on the email list, demonstrating eagerness on campus to learn ASL, but most of those students cannot attend the meetings due to scheduling conflicts. The ASL club officers believe that if a course in ASL is offered by the college, the students who expressed curiosity to learn it will be able to explore their interests further.
In addition to advocating for an ASL course, the club officers have many plans for the club in the future, including a Thanksgiving meeting where members learn signs for Thanksgiving-related food and traditions. The club will also be offering a doctor-patient ASL lesson with Saint Vincent College’s Pre-Student Osteopathic Medical Association. Additionally, starting on Oct. 1, the club is creating #StartSigningSVC where they post a daily sign to Instagram @bearcat_ASL.
Overall, the ASL club aims to raise awareness and increase inclusivity on campus. “The ASL Club has come so far already,” Kashauer said. “Our primary hope, now, is the integration of everyday signs on campus. However, the club is not just a club for learning signs but for acknowledging and celebrating deaf culture.”