You don’t know hell until you’ve sat through a 15-minute lecture on possessive nouns or 45 minutes of a professor explaining the magic of a thesis statement, and what it can do for you.

The sad thing is, both of these occurred in upper-division English courses. The saddest part – one student asked the TA if they could do away with possessive nouns altogether because he simply didn’t get it.

People like our grammar-challenged friend above are everywhere around this campus. A freshman girl in a lower-division history course thought the Nile River originated in Morocco and ended in Nigeria. Other students can’t think their way through long division or shriek with terror if faced with simple multiplication and can’t find a calculator.

Someone’s getting shafted here. The students are either screwing themselves, or the university and the K-12 public education system is bending the nation over for the ol’ in-out.

Most likely, it’s both.

K-12 education has been a mess for a long time. There are many educated adults unable to point to Germany on a map or can’t grasp the concept of a dateline even with charts and diagrams.

Lots of people make noise about the state of K-12 education, and improvements are slow. And you only get upset mobs on the level of higher education when universities try to change current standards.

You can see a weak, half-hearted attempt from students here at UCSB, working themselves into a fervor over the possible G.E. changes. Their cause seems noble in light of the elimination of the non-Western culture requirement, but if they understood the workings of the current requirements they might not be so quick to protest.

There’s a trick surrounding the current non-Western culture requirement. It’s a special subject requirement, meaning that you don’t have to take a course expressly on a non-Western culture, it can be tacked on to another course that satisfies other G.E.s. There are some courses where you can cover upwards of four G.E. requirements with a single class. The same goes for the current ethnicity requirement.

Students can currently weasel their way out of ever taking a course that takes a significant look at the development of other cultures or the issues facing ethnic communities in the United States. Where have all the petitions and teach-ins been up to this point?

UCSB promises its students a liberal arts background when they enroll in the university. The problem isn’t in which courses students must take, but in the structure of those classes.

Departments create large lecture lower-division courses, and hire lecturers and graders to deal with students working on G.E. requirements. Usually, these are introductory courses with too much survey and not enough substance, not to mention personal contact with the professor or TA.

UCSB’s current program screws over the students, but no one seems to notice unless some sort of visibly charged issue is attached. The real tragedy about the proposed change isn’t that it eliminates important courses, but that it’s too similar to what we have now.

Students should worry about the quality of their education, but they don’t see or think clearly enough to make out the larger issue. We’re supposed to learn how to think critically here; too bad some of us are still hung up on scientific notation.

Steven Ruszczycky is the Daily Nexus Opinion editor.