By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–IU Southeast’s website is now accessible in Spanish.
The option, driven by Google Translate, is featured at the bottom of each page, with the cluster of social media icons.
The move comes as two other IU regional campuses take steps to add a Spanish version to their sites.
Dr. Donna Albrecht, professor of education and director of the New Neighbors Center, brought up the idea during a strategic planning committee meeting, to members of the subcommittee on recruitment and retention.
“It seemed like an easy change to make to reach a wider audience,” Albrecht said. “We need to do everything we can to make our campus accessible to the growing ENL/ESL population of students and their parents.”
For Dr. Mindy Badia, professor of Spanish, offering a Spanish version of the website demonstrates a responsiveness to the realities of the Louisville metro area, in which 4.5 percent of the population identifies as “Hispanic,” and in which Spanish-language radio stations and print media abound. It makes sense from a recruitment standpoint, with increasing numbers of Spanish speakers among prospective students. As Albrecht also noted, it’s important to meet Spanish speaking applicants where they live: While prospective college students from Spanish speaking households are generally bilingual, their parents often are not, and that matters.
“In Hispanic cultures, decisions about college are often made by the family,” Badia said. “Providing information in Spanish allows parents to play a meaningful role in their children’s decisions about college.”
Chris Crews, director of admissions, agrees.
“This is really about putting students and families first in the admission and enrollment process by providing low-barrier, inclusive services,” said Crews.
For Albrecht, the website is one more step in making the entire institution more inclusive.
“It is so important to do everything we can to be a welcoming campus, to be inclusive both culturally and linguistically, and to reach out to the growing English Learner/Emergent Bilingual population,” Albrecht said. “This is a simple step to take, so it just makes sense to do it.”
That accessibility might be a small step for web technology, but represent a giant leap for the perception of the campus for Spanish speaking students.
“Even when there is no language barrier, reaching out to Spanish speakers is an implicit affirmation of the value of their linguistic and cultural heritage,” Badia said. “It helps create a sense of belonging that comes from knowing that when they come to IU Southeast, their perspectives and experiences will be recognized and respected.”
For Amanda Stonecipher, vice chancellor for enrollment management and student affairs, the move helps IU Southeast live up to its mission.
“The mission of the university is to serve our region, and to do this effectively we need to continually update, adapt, and improve our services to meet the needs of our student population and their families,” Stonecipher said. “Adding a language translator to the IU Southeast website allows members of our larger community to learn about our amazing academic programs and explore opportunities to continue their educational journey.”