10/17/13 American Sign Language Club

Purdue American Sign Language Club uses sign language to express 'ASL' on Wednesday afternoon on Memorial Mall.

Though the American Sign Language Club consists of almost 100 students, only one of these members is deaf.

Jonathan Mesich, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts and the club’s vice president, said a few hard-of-hearing members are involved in the club, but he is the only deaf student. Both Mesich and Rachel Roembke, the club’s president and a senior in the College of Liberal Arts, hope for this to change in the future by gaining more deaf members.

They believe if more deaf students become a part of the club, it will allow for meaningful interactions between deaf and hearing students.

Mesich, emphasizing the importance of these interactions, said, “I want (students) to know that sign language is actually a true language. I want them to have communication with deaf people and feel like they can fit and socialize with deaf people. I want them to know that deaf people are the same as hearing people.”

The American Sign Language Club promotes this communication through socials, music and guest speakers.

Roembke said socials are used for members to practice their signing. During these events, the students put in earplugs to block their hearing and talk to each other entirely in American Sign Language. They play games, eat food and have fun — all without saying a word.

Music is also an important part of the organization. For Deaf Awareness Week, which fell on the last week of September this year, the club created a music video. They performed a song by Signmark, a deaf rapper who visited Purdue in 2012.

“We wanted to show our deaf pride,” Roembke said. “We’re just supporting the deaf community by showing something really special. Not only can hearing people watch it and listen to the music, but deaf people can watch it too and understand.”

Though the club is made up mostly of hearing students, the organization still works hard to promote sign language and deaf culture. These students are involved in the group because they want to learn and teach the language. They, along with deaf and hard-of-hearing members, have a deep passion for American Sign Language.

“I love sign language because you can express so much more without even using your voice,” Roembke said. “American Sign Language is a beautiful, visual language.”

The American Sign Language Club meets at 6 p.m. every other Tuesday in Room 122 of the Recitation Building.

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