The times they are a-changin’, but no one seems to be paying any attention to what’s really going on.
The G.E. Task Force, comprised of representatives from various academic departments across campus, prepared a proposal on Oct. 14 to revamp the current General Education program at UCSB.
The proposed plan would reconfigure the current requirements and in some cases cut back the number of classes needed in certain areas, including the sciences and writing.
The one change that seems to be causing the largest outcry from students on campus concerns replacing the non-western culture requirement with a western civilization course. Some students have even formed coalitions to argue against the change, worried that such a switch will keep students from learning about other cultures and encourage racially motivated hate incidents and crimes on campus.
It’s a flimsy, lame argument. While education may help in getting students to realize the problems concerning race and ethnicity in the world, it’s no panacea. Someone with racist beliefs will more likely ignore the material presented in an ethnic studies course than suddenly see the light and spread his or her arms wide for diversity.
All these students are wasting their breath screaming over some perceived injustice. They should direct their energy towards more important questions, like why does the university want to switch out one impotent G.E. program for another?
The reasons offered for the change seem vague at best and suggest that the university wants to find a faster way to push students through while reducing the financial woes of academic departments. The pursuit of a solid liberal arts education seems buried under a pile of empty nouns, fluffy adjectives and ulterior motives.
The General Education program is important. It provides students with an opportunity to sample disciplines outside of their majors and learn that the world is a connected place with connected ideas. The proposed changes reduce the number of classes students would need to take to satisfy their G.E. requirements – it’s hardly a move to rejuvenate the anemic G.E. program we have now.
The reduction of science courses and writing courses is especially concerning. In a nation where science education is dismal and many professors dedicate entire lectures in upper division courses to explaining a thesis statement, cutbacks in these areas aren’t an effective way for students to learn how to view the world with a critical eye and express what they find.
The proposed changes reek of a bigger issue at hand besides old white men wanting to perpetuate their old white history.