Stop stereotyping by major
March 10, 2019
People think majors in the humanities are a joke. The general sentiment on college campuses everywhere is that non-STEM classes are simple, commonsense and just plain easy. Those who make comments like these, however, clearly misunderstand the arts and social sciences.
I’m studying economics and Spanish in the College of LAS, so you may very well dismiss this column as biased. However, through economics courses, I’ve seen both sides of the coin in terms of science, technology, engineering and math, and the humanities.
I’ve taken calculus and statistics, as well as philosophy and creative writing, and I’ll readily admit from firsthand experience that classes focused on the arts are far from a joke. Rather, they have been some of the most challenging courses I’ve taken here at the University.
In math or statistics or physics or whatever, there’s one right answer. You learn the equation, work the formula, discover the pattern and churn out answers. In the humanities, though, “right” and “wrong” are entirely relative. The classes are endless pits of grey area.
If your professor or teaching assistant dislikes your natural style of writing, you’re in for a rough ride. There isn’t a bit of subjectivity involved in a math class; if you work hard and ask questions, you will be successful, almost guaranteed.
On the other hand, in a philosophy class, you could pour your blood, sweat and tears into your paper and still receive a less than desirable grade. I challenge any engineering major to experience a class this frustrating and still tell me “humanities are a joke.”
STEM is wonderful. Science, technology, engineering and math fuel technological progress in our world; our lives would be much worse without it. The importance of this field, however, shouldn’t cause us to view studies in non-STEM subjects as unimportant or useless.
Elitism permeates college campuses. We categorize one another by our majors and their associated stereotypes.
Individuals in the Gies College of Business must want to sell their souls to high powered consulting firms; kids in the College of Engineering must be insanely smart, but also could have no social life since they work themselves to death; people in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences must not want jobs.
We need to stop this madness. Nobody’s major makes them better or worse than anybody else; no category of courses is inherently easier or more difficult than any other. I, myself, have been guilty of putting people in boxes as soon as I discover their major.
Stop saying, “Awww, cute!” when someone is studying education. Stop thinking someone is a lazy flower child for studying English. Stop thinking someone thinks they’re better than everyone because they’re studying computer science.
The truth is, nobody benefits from stereotypes. We need all types of people in this world, not only talented musicians or gifted mathematicians. We should celebrate our different talents and be thankful others are strong in areas in which we ourselves are weak.
We’re all just trying our best to make the world a better place in whatever ways we know how.
Ellen is a sophomore in LAS.