The Clarion

UW-Stevens Point turns its back on humanities majors

Old Main at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Old Main at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Old Main at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Dylan Martin, Graphic Designer

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Perhaps you’ve heard about the latest proposal from the UW school in Stevens Point. After all, it has been grabbing the unassuming central-Wisconsin town some national attention, including making headlines at The Washington Post, but for all the wrong reasons.

The school announced a plan to cut 13 humanities majors from its curriculum, and add or expand 16 “in demand” majors to curtail a $4.5 million deficit, according to the Stevens Point Journal.

Included among the proposed cuts are American studies, art, geography, geoscience, history, philosophy, political science, and sociology as well as English, French, German, and Spanish language degrees.

Students currently enrolled in these programs would be allowed to finish their degree, but with what I would expect to be dwindling resources. The university plans on expanding eight degrees they currently offer, and adding eight more that offer a “clearer path to a career” to help build enrollment.

While offering additional majors seems like a great idea, this plan is short-sighted at best.

As a former UW-Stevens Point student, I find this very disheartening. I was a graphic design student there a few years back, and though graphic design is a major they plan on expanding, I don’t think that it should come at the expense of the other art programs they offer.

While dropping majors with low enrollment probably makes sense, dropping 13 majors at once seems like overkill. Not to mention, the programs they are adding are likely to experience growing pains. It will take time to work the kinks out and perfect them. And how many people will want to enroll in a school that could apparently take away their desired major at any moment?

I think they should introduce these new majors one step at a time and avoid making such drastic changes all at once. Eliminating 13 majors in one fell swoop seems pretty ludicrous to me, and a decision that the university and community would certainly come to regret.

I don’t know if you’ve been to Stevens Point before, but let me just go out on a limb here and say the culture in that town would suffer dearly without all the artists, musicians, and other humanities students currently enrolled there.

Also important to mention is the fact that UW-Stevens Point offers the lowest tuition in the UW system, which means these students would likely have to relocate somewhere with a higher cost of living and a steeper tuition to pursue their degrees.

Of course, the students are not taking this lying down. On March 21, roughly 300 students, university staff, and community members led a protest on campus and delivered a letter to the chancellor and administration demanding they entertain other avenues to curtail the deficit and declining enrollment.

According to The Washington Post, the university has decided to draw up a second proposal that it will consider along with the original one. Whether this proposal will be much better is yet to be seen, but at least some progress has been made because of the protest.

In the end, I hope their original proposal is not approved by the UW chancellor and Board of Regents.

I am, however, quite biased; I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology and have taken a plethora of fine art classes that offered me much personal growth. While these programs have not lead me down a “clear career path,” they have shaped my life in so many ways that I can hardly comprehend who I would be without that personal history.

At this point I’m currently on my way to one of the careers that are in demand: web development. But without my other background, I would not have the ethics I currently do to make my path more meaningful, nor would I understand any of the nuances or fundamental beauty of humanity. Life is not a clear path, but personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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UW-Stevens Point turns its back on humanities majors