ASST. HEAD COPY EDITOR
Wisconsin University-Stevens Point (UW-Stevens Point) released news about planned budget cuts on Monday, March 5, 2018. According to their website, the proposal included cutting thirteen programs, only one of which is not a liberal arts program. While they claim that “students enrolled in any major that is eventually discontinued will have the opportunity to complete their degrees,” it is clear that they want to focus on programs with “value and demand” like the natural sciences, business, and law. Though the reason given for these drastic cuts is the deficit and decreased enrollment, the proposal also wants to create 16 entirely new programs. They want 16 new programs, but 13 must be cut to make room . . . that does not sound like a financial issue to me. Rather, it seems that the issue lies in how the school values different aspects of student education.
According to The Washington Post, this proposal faced immediate backlash from “students, faculty, and alumni” of the school. The article said that “many employers say that they seek out liberal arts majors because of key skills they learn, such as problem-solving and critical thinking,” yet the school is bringing in non-liberal arts majors. In an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, UW-Stevens Point’s chancellor Bernie Patterson said, “We [at the University] remain committed to ensuring every student who graduates from UW-Stevens Point is thoroughly grounded in the liberal arts, as well as prepared for a successful career path.” This seems ironic, given the proposed cuts. If you really value a liberal arts education, why would you take out the major liberal arts? Additionally, when has learning something for the sake of learning become frowned upon in society? Students are allowed to work towards a valid career path, but who is to decide what is valid? I definitely do not believe it is the school’s responsibility to dictate the importance or focus of a student’s education.
So, when I see schools cutting the liberal arts program out of simple ignorance of its value to students, I get angry. What makes learning computer science so much more important than learning history? If there is no one studying history, why write it? Without the respect that should be given to historians, who will listen when they warn the world against repeated behavior? We cannot allow our society to fall into cultural apathy. Books must be read and re-read. History must be examined from every new angle imaginable.
If it can be thought, it is worth studying, so why should so much disappear? I fear that, even with the negative backlash that UW-Stevens Point received for their proposed cuts, their second plan which is being drafted will not be any better. Once schools decide that they no longer value a particular type of education, it is very unlikely that anything will change their mind. Take a second and think — am I going to let education in the liberal arts be taken from everyone? Should tenured faculty lose their jobs over a new-found emphasis on natural sciences?
No, of course you should never give up. No, they should not lose their jobs. No, we cannot let this stand any longer.