Why is it that a humanities major at Bates College is forced to take a science class, quantitative class, and lab in order to graduate? Bates College undoubtedly wants to produce well-rounded individuals who have received a full liberal arts education. Yet, what astonishes me, is that a sciences major at Bates College can go their entire four years without taking a single humanities or arts course. How well-rounded will these individuals be when they graduate? They will have had an impressive education in whatever field they choose to go into, but they will not have taken any religion, sociology, women and gender studies, history or literature courses (to name a few) – all subjects that are beginning to be acknowledged as increasingly important fields of study when it comes to understanding and working with people.
The core humanities courses are not the only areas that are being ignored when it comes to the school’s academic requirements: the arts are being shoved away as useless to the Bates student as well. Bates College cannot produce well-rounded students if they are not requiring them to take classes in dance, theater, music, and art. Taking a language class is also not a requirement. How is this school supposed to be viewed as diverse and open to different points of view when other cultures and languages are not being acknowledged as important? What baffles me is the message Bates is sending to the majors of these subjects. As I look at the different chemistry labs available I wonder first if Bates is attempting to torture me. By institutional standards, am I stupid if I do not take science courses? Am I not expected to get a job by being a religious studies major? If so, many people can blow off the humanities and arts; why can’t I forgo a class whose subject often gives me anxiety and low self-esteem? If I’m being forced to take three courses that I would not necessarily enjoy, why isn’t everyone else being told to do that as well?
I agree that it is important for each student at Bates College to receive a good education that includes classes that may not be up their alley. But, as someone who is very direct in their interests and knowledgeable about what they want, I do not think that forcing three different science/math courses (one of which is incredibly time consuming) is a fair approach to the need for well-rounded students.
Furthermore, as a school that is not exempt from issues of diversity and sexism, we should not be pushing the humanities into the corner of our academic agenda. It is important that each Bates student gets exposed to studies on gender, race, religion, and other subjects and issues that our world faces today. There has been talk about a diversity requirement at Bates, and I wholeheartedly agree with this idea; I believe it would change the way Bates is perceived by the outside world, as well as creating the well rounded students that Bates hopes to produce.