Should liberal arts classes continue to be offered at N.C. public universities?

By Mayeesa Mitchell, Staff Writer

February 20, 2013

On Bill Bennett’s national radio show last month, newly elected Gov. Pat McCrory made controversial remarks in regards to liberal arts education in public institutions of higher education.

“If you want to take gender studies, that’s fine. Go to a private school and take it, but I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job,” said McCrory.

He believes that it would be more beneficial to the state’s budget and economy to adjust the education curriculum to what business and commerce need so that college students will have jobs upon their graduation.

Many, especially those who are taking liberal arts classes at public colleges, have been infuriated by the governor’s remarks.

In an opinion article featured on the Daily Tar Heel website, Holly Brugger, a women’s and gender studies major at the University of North Carolina, replied to the governor’s remarks:

“I do not think that my fellow women’s and gender studies majors and I should have to go to a ‘private school’ to attain a ‘gender studies’ degree when we are as productive to society as the majority of our peers.”

Although I am attending a private institution, I agree with Brugger. Liberal arts classes should not be excluded from public institutions of higher learning.

McCrory said that students should attend a private institution if they want to take liberal arts classes. For too many students that is not possible because of the current economy. The reality is that parents’ salaries have stayed the same or decreased while college tuition continues to increase. Being that a bachelor’s degree is necessary for most careers, a public education is the best option for them.

Additionally, a liberal arts education helps to create a well-rounded individual and therefore should not be excluded from the educational curriculum.

During the interview, McCrory asked, “What are we teaching these courses for if they’re not going to help get a job?” The question was completely misguided and not based on the facts.

It is these courses that help people get jobs. In such a competitive job market, a degree is simply not enough because all college graduates have one.

It is that individual who has studied and mastered the Mandarin language, and who can communicate with a company’s Chinese partners, who will get the job. It is the engineer who took communication classes who will stand out because he is able to write articles for academic journals and present his research in the boardroom and at conventions.

Cultural studies, gender studies, English, psychology, ethics classes and so many more can be an asset for businessmen and women, doctors and teachers alike. Without these studies, how will workers of the future know how to interact with people different from themselves? How will they know how to solve real-world problems between people? These classes are the ones that set graduates apart during the job hunt and make them more desirable for employers.

Here at High Point University, McCrory’s proposed plans for education reform will not affect us because we are a private institution; but should our friends and family members who attend public intuitions be denied what we have been granted? For their sake, we, as High Point students, should be just as concerned about these possible changes as our peers at public institutions.