By Christopher Acree–
Senior English major, Morgan Hubsch, has taken a path similar to many college students these days – she’s on her third major. Having initially tried equine business and business as areas of study, she thought she might want to be an entrepreneur and maybe start her own bakery. She was even a volunteer firefighter for a bit of time. But after years of searching she has finally found her calling and has decided to become a writer and actress.
“I want to live life,” Hubsch said. “I want to experience every aspect of it and I thrive on creativity and imagination. I think you should try everything.”
Unfortunately for Hubsch however, if Governor Matt Bevin has his way, there might be less for students like herself to experience at state colleges and universities.
Last week Bevin announced “there will be more incentives to electrical engineers than French literature majors. There just will.”
Bevin and other in-state Republicans said employers have told them they lack qualified job candidates, and there’s a need for more of certain professions such as physicians.
When reached for comment, the majority of U of L French Literature majors were conspicuously silent. This is probably because they don’t exist. U of L doesn’t even have a French Literature major program, neither does UK or WKU. Interesting.
Now maybe the governor knew this and he was simply referring to the liberal arts programs as a whole, and we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he holds no special animus towards the French and their prose. Regardless of his meaning, the statement is critically misinformed and in Bevin’s case, quite hypocritical.
The systems behind college universities have been a right-wing punching bag for decades. For instance, most universities are often portrayed in Republican circles as turning decent, God-fearing, intelligent, obedient, chaste young budding Conservatives, into rebellious, devil-worshipping, transgendered, pot-smoking, pre-marital sex-having, Liberal parasites.
This goes without mentioning that no area of college is least-well liked among its detractors than the arts, particularly liberal arts. These same Republicans might as well think everyone in college is indoctrinated by professors spewing anti-capitalist and anti-American rhetoric under pictures of a gender neutral Chairman Mao, all the while sending any and all graduates on an express train back to their parent’s basements.
“Most people think that [English] is a degree that’s not going to go anywhere and you can’t make a living out of it,” Hubsch said. “My dad is an engineer and he wanted me to go to business school, and it did not work out well for me.”
Attacking the arts is attacking one of the foundations of the university itself. U of L’s College of Arts and Sciences enrolls nearly half of all students, and the other half have taken a least a couple of courses en route to completing gen-ed requirements for any degree. Let’s put it this way. Have you ever been to college? If so, you’ve taken an A&S course.
Attitudes like Bevin’s may come from a place of practicality and love, but also put an undue burden on students. And while some students change majors more often than they change underwear, few spontaneously decide they want to go into the kind of fields Bevin is talking about. Your average art history major doesn’t wake up one day and say to themselves, “You know what I really want to do? Become a proctologist.”
Getting a degree in a certain discipline doesn’t mean you’ll be doing that for a living, as many burger-flipping philosophy majors can attest. As many A&S students across the country know, studying within these selected fields can open up a world of possibilities on both a professional and personal level.
One can even get a degree in East Asian Studies and then go on to become the governor of Kentucky. Gee, I wonder who did that one.