CSUâ€™s sign language department is using silence to enhance communication across campus in an effort to teach every student the Ramsâ€™ Fight Song in sign language.
The campaign, conceived by sign language professor Dede Kliewer this past summer, is relatively new but has already found its place in a number of significant events at the university. Kliewer, accompanied by various sign students from her class, has made appearances at university directorsâ€™ meetings, Ramapalooza, the Student Involvement Fair and Grill the Buffs.
â€œA young man working at the bookstore stopped me one day, wondering if I was the lady waving her arms around on the plaza during the involvement fair,â€ she said. â€œHe asked to learn it and I taught him and a group of friends right there. Whenever or wherever anybody wants to learn, Iâ€™ll teach them.â€
More recently, the song could be seen at this weekâ€™s diversity conference and, for the first time ever, the Homecoming Parade last weekend.
â€œI must have signed the song 20 or 25 times,â€ said sophomore sign language student Emmy Swisher, recalling her place among other sign students in the recent parade. â€œI dreamt in sign language that night.â€
A room of high school students learned the song Monday, when Kliewer, assistant interpreter Renee Wilson and two sign students made a presentation at the diversity conference banquet. The excitement among the approximately 75 students may not have been heard, but could certainly be seen.
â€œYou have to stand up and perform it with much energy and excitement,â€ Kliewer told the eager room.
Despite the somewhat jumbled hand movements exhibited by some throughout the song, none could mistake the exuberant climax; fists pumped wildly while mouths silently formed the â€œfight, fight, fight. Go Rams!â€
â€œI learned the song a few weeks ago,â€ said Ashleigh Pursley, senior sign language student helping teach at the conference. â€œIâ€™m still a little sloppy, but this kind of thing is really important in enhancing communication between students.â€
Kliewer agrees; rather than learning the song for the song itself, the inclusiveness and awareness it draws from the student body is the true goal.
â€œIf it makes just one person stop and think about how deaf people try to communicate, Iâ€™ll feel like we accomplished something,â€ she said. â€œAnd see, these kids learned what â€˜stalwartâ€™ meant tonight. Thatâ€™s got to come up at some point in their lives.â€
With what Kliewer estimates to be around 400 signed and dangerous students already walking the campus, her goal to convert the fight song to a fight sign is gaining momentum.
Four hundred down, 22,500 to go.
Collegian writer Colleen Canty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.