After four years, barista-ing isn’t on my bucket list

by: Darby Ratliff

Opinion Editor

I’m going to preface with that fact that I currently inhabit the social sciences and humanities and that I intend on pursuing a graduate degree in the humanities. I’d also like to say that I’m too scared of science to touch it. The same thing can be said for math.

The College has put a lot of focus on the STEM subjects and other disciplines outside of the humanities. Science Hall is clearly a building dedicated to STEM, with the Pre-Medical Center, statistics, and mathematics departments being housed there and with the intention of moving most, if not all, of the sciences into that building. The only class that I will likely ever have had in that building is Business Statistics II, and admittedly, it seems as though only the sciences will ever get to have the shiny new building. Granted, we’re not really sure when their new toy will be completely finished, but the point stands.

I don’t mean to lessen the importance of the STEM subjects. I wish I had the ability to study, understand, and still like science, and the dedication to commit the rest of my life to medicine. However, I also happen to know that Canisius is a liberal arts institution. Our Core Curriculum requires two english classes, as well as a number of philosophy and religious studies courses as well. We’re required to complete a science, and, for some, a math as well, but the liberal arts basis is lost in the shuffle of the sciences.

Business decisions are important to our continuance as an institution, but I have a hard time forgetting the fact that the College appears to be shifting its focus towards the sciences. With this in mind, I haven’t forgotten the fact that the Kenneth L. Koessler Award Distinguished Faculty Member was awarded to Dr. Mick Cochrane of the Creative Writing program, and the award winner also received a grant for the Contemporary Writers Series, which last year welcomed National Book Award winner Phil Klay and National Book Award finalist Tea Obreht. Janet McNally received a New York Fellowship of the Arts. These are a few that I’m extensively familiar with, given my academic background, but a number of liberal arts faculty members have been recognized for their effort. However, many of these accolades were awarded by a source outside of the administration or the College itself.

I don’t want to stop pushing the sciences. I want biology to flourish and to recognize that Animal Behavior Ecology and Conservation is a top program within the country. However, why aren’t we striving for universally strong programs. I would argue that my academic disciplines are incredibly student-centered and strenuous. The Raichle Pre-Law Center has brought a number of Supreme Court Justices to campus, including Chief Justice John Roberts in 2010 and has received little internal recognition for its efforts. Our second largest network of alumni is in Washington, D.C., and so for students who wish to study law or enter politics, it’s an amazing opportunity. Why aren’t we pushing these opportunities? Why aren’t we giving each department and program an opportunity to thrive?

The Humanities are so often laced with the connotation that one day their graduates will work in coffee shops as baristas. Or just won’t have a job at all. Why aren’t we trying harder to stop that stereotype? That’s what I want to know and what I think a lot of my comrades want to see as well. Proof that any degree at Canisius provides you with security–in jobs and in graduate school. The stereotype doesn’t need to exist, but our humanities do–that’s the claim we should be substantiating, not the inverse.

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