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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Cushy’ liberal arts majors deserve respect along with scientific peers

    I’m a creative writing major. Every time I say that sentence outside the context of an English class, I’ve learned to pause for the ill-disguised eyebrow raise, the uncomfortable cough and the inevitable, “”Well, what do you want to do with that?”” My answers vary, from “”live on Ramen till I’m 40,”” to “”um, write… creatively?””

    I’ve gradually grown a thick skin about my goals, because someone always expects to be the person to change my whole outlook with the tired, “”You’ll never make it, you’ll have no money, why don’t you consider a real major, something you can make a career out of?”” But more and more, I’m finding the open skepticism at my “”squishy”” humanities major irksome.

    The bulk of the people I’ve met in college are either studying engineering or some manifestation of pre-medicine. They take classes I wouldn’t last 20 minutes in without a panic attack. I view them with the utmost respect, even awe. Some of them will correct our views on how the world works, improve the functions of everyday life or change how we die. Science and math never cease to amaze me.

    But when told I’m taking a poetry workshop, too many people feel it necessary to moan, “”Oh, I wish I could just sit around and write poetry all day!”” This has gotten really old. I don’t pretend I could do their work with any kind of skill, so why do they find it appropriate to reduce what I do well to a triviality?

    What is even more difficult for me to understand is why people bother with such comments. I don’t really see why it matters to a soon-to-be doctor that I want to be a writer. Do they feel like my goal undermines theirs? Or do they truly think I’m lazy and silly, and that my desire to be creative makes the world a less meaningful place? I fear it might be the latter, that humanities or arts-driven people make those in the hard, applied sciences antsy about the fate of society.

    The all-too-prevalent myth that some areas of study are more important than others has got to end. By the time we reach the university level, everyone, regardless of major, has proved his or her academic mettle. That’s why we’re here – because higher education is important and we want to pursue it. So all the major-bashing only undermines the ultimate goal of entering the world as educated, well-rounded individuals.

    Because the future needs all of us. Really. The world deserves to be a diverse place, grounded equally in art and science, and with people working hard for the betterment of both.

    Perhaps I’m making myself sound like the artsy-fartsy, full-of-it child all the engineers think I am, but truly, the world will always need people who know their literature, theater, art, language or history. Where would we currently be without these studies? Full-to-bursting with knowledge and technology, but devoid of soul. Curing diseases left and right, but leaving people with little to live for.

    With our university currently in such dire straits, students must band together and show respect for all academic pursuits. All this in-bickering and major elitism will get in the way of preserving our excellent institution. Fighting about whose studies are more important and throwing one another under the bus to preserve our own programs just makes the university as a whole look petty.

    So whether you’re planning to cure AIDS or sit around writing poetry all day, do so bearing in mind that the other aspiration is equally worthwhile. And if people like me really do eat macaroni and cheese and live on our smart friends’ charity forever, well, there’s always “”I told you so.””

    -ÿHeather Price-Wright is a creative writing and Latin American studies sophomore. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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