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Arts or Science? The Dividing Choice for Students

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Arts and humanities departments at universities nationwide have been on a steady decline, with lesser funding and a decrease in the number of students pursuing majors in these fields.

According to the EMSI, an economic modeling website, there has been a decrease of humanities students over the last decade; with there being just under 400,000 students pursuing humanities degrees from 2015 to 2016, as opposed to the 500,000 in previous years. In contrast, the number of students pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) degrees has been increasing with each year, going from 15 percent to 21 percent in the last five years.

The campus of Yale University. (Image: Pexels)

Arts and humanities degrees are becoming less valued by the general population of students, and the funding for humanities programs have also decreased. In a February 2016 article, the New York Times published an article stating how many state officials believed funding for the arts and humanities was not as necessary because jobs in those fields are not as demanding and fewer students actually find jobs. This argument has led to many officials calling for less funding for humanities departments at universities all over the country.

Students in liberal arts programs have observed how their departments at their schools tend to differ from the STEM related programs, and many agree that they do not have the same resources as their STEM counterparts.

Emily Frobose, a senior studying Spanish at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said she has seen the difference between the buildings, resources and overall environment in the STEM classrooms, and the ones she learns in. Frobose said that because Illinois is well known for its College of Engineering, a lot of the state funding does go to that department. However, she has never found her education to be in any way lacking.

“Luckily, arts and humanities classes are equally as competent despite the attention that STEM majors are given,” Frobose said. “I have taken some amazing art, Spanish, and French classes with excellent professors.”

Alyssa Guzman, a senior studying English and Creative Writing at the University of Iowa, said she has “absolutely” seen that the university spends more on the STEM departments than on the liberal arts ones.

Guzman described how the English building at Iowa does not have windows that open, and there are other buildings in old, weak conditions. However, at the same time, an engineering building already in good shape got another renovation.

“I sometimes feel that the university values STEM students more because they are probably more likely to make a lot more money to donate the the university one day,” Guzman said. “I find the lack of care put into humanities buildings insulting because it’s as though the university is telling us that we aren’t as important as the other majors.”

Students in liberal arts recognize the importance of STEM fields, but they also see the importance of pursuing a degree in the humanities. Guzman said being in liberal arts has given her the opportunity to expand her intellect in ways she could not have otherwise.

She said she also been able to make a connection with her peers and her professors because liberal arts classes are more empathetic, whereas she has heard from her friends in engineering that their professors do not see them as anything more than names on exam sheets.

“The material we read also opens our eyes to topical and important issues that are worth contemplating, which therefore encourages students to think about how they can make a positive change in the world,” said Guzman.

Bizzy Emerson, a senior studying journalism at the University of Missouri, also said that liberal arts degrees can be useful in many ways, just not in the same ways as STEM degrees.

“I think more people should pay attention to humanities and arts because technology gives nearly everyone a platform to take part in those fields,” Emerson said. “We’re all participating in these areas in some way, so building a career out of that can be something really incredible and thought-provoking.”

Overall, there is some consensus from liberal arts students that their degrees are indeed important, even if they may not be according to standards set by STEM careers. Nushrat Jahan, a senior studying Public Policy at the University of Chicago, said there are many gaps that liberal arts students can fill that aren’t filled by STEM students, and vice versa. According to Jahan, it is important to consider the equal benefits of both in today’s society.

Jahan said it is easy for society to praise STEM careers because those fields can be “commoditized” and produced into something tangible; however, it is just as important to see the benefits that liberal arts degrees bring to society as a general.

“It is never useful to solely rely on the skills gained from a STEM training,” Jahan said. “There are useful skills gathered from art and humanities (self-expression, pedagogy, comprehension of complex thought) that can contribute to self-development in ways that STEM alone cannot.”

Fatima is a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she is majoring in Journalism and also pursuing a minor in Business.

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Otterbein University Grants Scholarship Aid to Fallen Westerville Officer’s Children

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The children of slain Westerville Police officer have been awarded full-ride scholarships to attend Otterbein University.

The private four-year university first disclosed its decision to sponsor the daughters of Officer Eric Joering, who was fatally shot while on duty alongside Officer Anthony Morelli on February 10th, 2018, at a Westerville City Council meeting on Tuesday, February 20th. In a subsequent press release published on its website and social media accounts on Wednesday, the university expressed its hopes of providing a system of support for the Joering family as they transition through this difficult period by ensuring that each daughter “has sufficient support to complete an undergraduate degree at Otterbein.”

Otterbein University has also dedicated a Spotlight tribute in honor of the two officers, extending the university’s condolences to the families of the fallen officers as well as the Westerville Police Department.

Authorities have charged the 30-year-old perpetrator, Quentin Smith, with two counts of aggravated murder of Joering and Morelli. Officers Joering and Morelli were said to have arrived at Smith’s townhome residence after having received an urgent 911 domestic violence call where they were met with a hostile Smith. Former reports have indicated that there were several prior domestic violence incidences where police similarly had been called to Smith’s property, albeit without any arrests made.

Smith was reported to have been critically injured upon his arrest and was promptly hospitalized. Smith has since been discharged and is currently held without bail.

 

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College Board Criticized for Utilizing Stoneman Douglas Shooting Massacre as Advertising Strategy

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A controversial mass email dispatched by the College Board on Wednesday has gone viral, eliciting a wave of public backlash against the organization’s alleged attempt to exploit last Wednesday’s Florida school shooting massacre to advertise the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

In his email to fellow colleagues and education administrators, College Board President David Coleman began his message by conveying College Board’s condolences to individuals and families affected by the tragedy. Coleman progressed to commend the efforts of student activist coalitions and draws upon Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez’s plea for gun control legislative reform. He emphasized on how he felt “compelled to share the unadulterated, impassioned voice of a student,” whose exposure to AP Government has equipped her with necessary skills to identify evidence. However, Coleman expressed his conflicting perspective to Gonzalez’s position on gun control, asserting his belief that Gonzalez could have attempted “to better understand the positions of gun rights proponents.” Coleman also references a published interview of another Stoneman Douglas student David Hogg, in which Hogg credits his AP History class for spurring his interest in the role of journalism in society, declaring that David Hogg’s words honor Advanced Placement teachers everywhere, for they reflect their power to open worlds and futures to students.”

Provoked by the contents of the email, several recipients have unleashed their ire on social media platforms. Andrew B. Palumbo, the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, tweeted his outrage in a reply to Jon Boesckenstedt, the Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing at DePaul University, calling for College Board to immediately issue an apology to the public.

Former chairman of College Board’s science academic advisory committee, Jennifer Pfannerstill, tendered in her formal resignation on Thursday afternoon, citing that she is unable to “advocate for, and stand by, [an] organization that in one of our nation’s times of trial, would question the very students who allow them to exist and would promote itself as the only program to teach students how to use evidence”

The College Board has since broken its silence, publishing a public apology in an attempt to appease its angered social media followers and critics, exerting that they had no intention of diverting the attention away from the plights of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School survivors and their community.

 

 

 

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National News

States Fight Back Against FCC’s Orders to End Net Neutrality in April

Nearly half the states in the U.S. are fighting for net neutrality.

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On Thursday morning the Federal Communications Commission published their order in the Federal Register to repeal net neutrality, which is set to go into effect on April 23, 2018.

Now that the final rule has been published by the FCC, entities can begin to file legal challenges against the order. In response to the order, 22 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia refiled legal challenges in an attempt to block the repeal of net neutrality.

The states had filed previously petitions preserving their right to sue in January; however, they agreed to withdraw the petitions last Friday until the FCC’s official publication.

The multi-state lawsuit is led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and a petition was filed the same day the FCC published their order. States backing up New York in this battle include California, Oregon, North Carolina, Hawaii, and Minnesota.

According to the petition, the states find that the FCC order is, “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion within the meaning of the Administrative Procedure Act.” The states also find that the order violates federal law, “including, but not limited to, the Constitution, the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and FCC regulations promulgated thereunder.”

The FCC voted last December 3-2 to overturn the 2015 rules that prevent internet service providers from blocking, slowing access to, or charging more for specific content on the internet.

The 22 attorneys general are not alone in the battle over net neutrality. Internet giants including Netflix, Kickstarter, and Amazon made it clear on Twitter that they disagreed with the FCC’s vote in December.

Even Burger King had something to say about the battle for net neutrality.

The publication triggers a 60-legislative-day deadline for Congress to vote on whether or not the FCC’s decision should be overturned. According to the leader of the coalition against the repeal of net neutrality, the battle has only just begun.

 

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