By: Lydia Estes, Staff Writer
It’s hard to decide how to spend my time. Do I read for Government or finish my English paper? Do I choose 30 minutes of sleep or workout? Or should I multitask and think about the quality of my education while I study fastidiously for exams?
Wofford, shining forth with untarnished honor, is a school, a business, a marketing firm, a publications company, an athletic organization, a landscaping business and an institution of the arts. I can guess that a company as multifaceted as Wofford faces challenges in quality control, so how does Wofford sustain its reputation when the to-do list is never-ending and the issues are ever-growing?
It’s important to preface this critique with a reminder of all that keeps me sane on the daily: entering the library to see Paul Jones smile and wave, Miss Cathy’s dedication to her omelet-making craft and Mrs. Patel’s undying willingness to search for three semesters’ worth of stress-shopping packages. There are many on this campus who are shields, deflecting much of the negativity. There are reasons to celebrate this college, but I am in no manner denying the cornucopia of problems that Wofford needs to address. In fact, all of this is to add one more to your attention: outdated educational policies.
I’ve heard inklings of this discussion already penetrating the campus, like a student-initiated interest in requiring just one science and English for students pursuing B.A. degrees but adding a “gen-ed” in the Finance and Government departments. Why should a Government student have to understand meiosis but a Biology student can graduate without a background on American politics?
Gen-ed requirements are just the beginning. We all know registration is intimidating, but when over 140 first-year students could not successfully register for full schedules this spring due to a shortage of course offerings, we have to wonder whose fault—if anyone’s—this is? The graduating class of 2020 was not required to register for a science course in our freshman year, because administration wanted to grant more educational freedom to the non-STEM students. A great idea in theory, but poorly executed in practice. A Spanish and Art History major (with Government minor) myself, I have planned my remaining semesters but have encountered institutional blocks in achieving these goals when lower-level sciences were reserved for first-years. Normally, I’d understand, but students pursuing a B.S. can’t satisfy major requirements with those classes anyway, so the registration-restricted courses are set aside for the demographic of Wofford’s student body that only includes first-years pursuing B.A. degrees. I’m expected to take a seat in the 150-level science course that someone pursuing a B.S. needs to fulfill major requirements and requires me to postpone taking a class for my major that is offered only at that time. Is the college prioritizing STEM over the humanities, or is this an unintended consequence?
A liberal arts education like Wofford’s is meant to broaden our thinking so that we never find ourselves confined to our majors. That’s how in my Spanish course on Latin American history I found myself satirizing the underrepresentation of Latin art in the art history department or South American history in the History department. Justin Bouknight, a Spanish and Religion double major, coined the problem cleverly, “Western Civ or White Civ?” as the class discussed how the typical History 102 course perpetuates the exclusion of non-Caucasians from textbooks. However, the course is a satisfactory gen-ed requirement that is seen as preparing Wofford’s students with a supposed liberal arts education.
I’ve already listed the number of hats Wofford has to wear every day. If we defer this issue to the “higher-ups,” it’ll likely be brushed to the side because there isn’t enough time in the day. I believe it’s our responsibility to reprioritize our education if we’re going to bother fighting for the other issues that we choose to fit into our already issue-driven schedules.