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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Editorial: Kavanagh needs to learn there’s more to research universities than STEM

    According to Arizona Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Scottsdale), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, we shouldn’t be here.

    As a group of liberal arts students attending a four-year public research university, we should either stop sucking up state funds and plop down in the McDonalds we would have ended up in anyway, or stick around and turn from our passions to more practical studies.

    Truly, any number of options are open to us in Kavanagh’s discipline-segregated educational model: we can be scientists or engineers.

    Anything else, and we belong somewhere less prestigious, where we can’t muck up the UA’s image and STEM research initiatives.

    Forget the Daily Wildcat.

    Forget the UA Poetry Center and Center for Creative Photography.

    Forget Ka’Deem Carey (a religious studies major), Grant Jerrett and Aaron Gordon, who attended the UA on athletic scholarships and pursued an uncertain future in the world of sports. Forget those Pulitzer Prize winners from the UA school of journalism. Forget the U.S. senators, presidential nominees and representatives who have graduated from our university with a liberal arts degree and uncertain job prospects.

    Forget an apparently expendable 41 percent of our population who likely had little contact with Kavanagh’s precious STEM-related departments — all you students in the colleges of architecture, education, fine arts, humanities, letters, arts and sciences, law, or social and behavioral sciences.

    In Kavanagh’s model, the value of education is defined by projected dollars and cents, by the amount of rungs climbed in The Princeton Review or U.S. News & World Report.

    Though he purports to be concerned with the quality of our universities, Kavanagh is really talking to us about quantity: How many cash cows can Arizona pump out of its educational system?

    He could at least do us the decency of pretending he’s not eyeing us like his next filet mignon.

    Sequestering these prime rib students in our best-funded universities, Kavanagh apparently believes, will ensure that less money is wasted on debt-accumulating “anybodies” unconcerned with future job prospects.

    But Kavanagh seems to have a fatal misconception about what a research university actually researches. Right alongside our prestigious STEM-based research centers are The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies, the Social & Behavioral Sciences Research Institute, the Southwest Center and so many more. In those centers, our best and brightest are also studying linguistics, urban development, folklore and art. Is Kavanagh looking to create a new kind of research university, one at which no one would ever use the dreaded word “interdisciplinary?”

    The importance of a well-rounded education can’t be overstated. In addition to teaching a craft or a trade, college is meant to imbue students with essential communication skills, different modes of critical thinking and tolerance. Scientists and engineers, above almost all others, must have the ability to relate to those they are trying to help. And considering the UA’s general education requirements for all majors, it seems that we’re not alone in this belief.

    One of the unique experiences of the American college system is self-exploration. At 18, we don’t have to have it all figured out. We have the opportunity to muck about a bit, to experiment and grow before we set our lives’ agendas in stone.

    Thankfully, Kavanagh has a plan to get us humanities folks straight to work: Learn the skills to become machinists and make boatloads of cash.

    We have our own suggestion for Kavanagh: If all you want to do is pump out drones, open a factory.

    Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat editorial board and written by one of its members. They are Sarah Precup, Joey Fisher, Katelyn Kennon, and David W. Mariotte. They can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or an Twitter via @DailyWildcat.

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