Open Letter to the French Department

We, a group of French students at Macalester, are writing this open letter with frustration regarding the department’s textbook policy. We know textbooks are expensive, and no department is immune to unreasonably expensive course material. We are writing this, however, because we believe there are a lot of actions the French department can take, should they choose to be proactive. 

This semester, the textbook for introductory courses 101 and 102 cost $88. The textbook for the intermediate level has the hefty price tag of $238. Costly textbooks clearly pose immense challenges to all students, particularly low-income students. The fact that Macalester has a language requirement makes this all the more unacceptable: all students, no matter their financial situation, will have to purchase expensive language textbooks during their time at Macalester. Considering Macalester’s lack of an adequate aid program for textbooks, we find that the Department’s continued use of overpriced textbooks is at best, unnecessary and irresponsible and at worst, crudely classist. We want classes that feel comfortable and hospitable for all students, not classes that immediately establish a feeling of scarcity. Current French classes, with their expensive textbooks, fail to meet that expectation. 

While we know the online resources these textbooks offer are convenient and useful for grading, the financial burden makes this an unethical choice.

We are hereby calling on the department to rethink the ways they structure their curricula. There is no shortage of online resources for language teaching, and we believe that it is completely within the abilities of the department to find better alternatives and abandon the commitment to expensive textbooks. This will, in turn, create an exponentially more inclusive environment within the department, and will attract students who may be unable to afford studying French at Macalester otherwise. Moreover, it will be in line with the guiding principles of our community and institution. As such, we expect the department to take necessary action.Open Letter to the French Department


List of Signatories