French programs laid to rest

Brennan Carney

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The French flag was an object of mourning Thursday, Nov. 4, on Southeastern’s campus. That afternoon, students and staff from across educational disciplines made an appearance in black to pay their final respects to Southeastern’s abolished French programs.

Dr. Margaret Marshall, a French national and tenured professor of her native language, gave a brief speech once everyone had assembled. In it, she lamented the loss of the programs and language that she loves so dearly.

“We feel that we have not voiced any opposition to the decision that was made, and we think that if we don’t say anything, people will think that we agree with it,” said Marshall. “So, we wanted to show how much we are upset with the termination of the French programs.”

Marshall is one of the several French professors that are now looking for work in the wake of the state budget cuts.

A jazz band was on location and played the program to rest in the classic jazz style of southern Louisiana. After several songs, the group organized into a parade and marched around campus in front of Fayard Hall and the Memorial Fountain. The French flag was carried in the parade’s vanguard, draped over a makeshift coffin.

Many students, faculty, staff, alumni and community supporters of the former programs felt very satisfied with the results.

“I thought we had a really good turnout,” said Annie Doucet, a senior French major and president of Le Circle Francais, the Southeastern French club. “I’m very proud and happy about what we did, and I think we accomplished our goal.”

Another French professor to voice her opinion was Dr. Evelyne Bornier, who referenced a historical precedence where the French language was frowned upon. Bornier expressed her fears that this is a harbinger of the decline of the French language in America.

“I think this is a catastrophe for the state of Louisiana, the students in our universities and as president of the CODIFIL (Council for the Development of French in Louisiana) consortium, I think it is a big slap in the face of all the people in Louisiana who are from French descent,” said Bornier. “When I think about people 50 years ago or 60, 70 years ago who were not allowed to speak French in the classroom. Now we’re doing that again. This is going to contribute to the disappearance of the language.”

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French programs laid to rest