Changes in Liberal Arts Not so Liberating

April 19, 2013 Op-Eds, Opinion

Don’t bite off more than you can chew, my mom used to say when I was growing up.

Specifically, I refer to the unbelievable amount of incoming freshman and the small amount of on-campus housing and the executive decision of creating online courses from Rollins College.

First of all, why does Rollins choose to use the latin motto of Multum in parvo (i.e., much in little) so literally?

A letter from Res Life arrived April 8 specifying that the freshman dorms have been “expanded:” “Strong Hall 220 and Strong Hall 221 will be designated as first-year housing for the 2013-2014 academic year.” How many freshman does Rollins expect to have in a building where the maximum amount of rooms is 18? Shouldn’t Rollins be more concerned with retention rates rather than just trying to fit as many people they can into a clown car? To get more people here in the short-term will provide more income for the college, but in the long-run what Rollins is doing is getting into a vicious cycle where students are going to continue drop out.

Secondly, when did Liberal Arts falsely transmute into a Multi-versity rather than a University?

Since the changes President Duncan determined in separating the College of Professional Studies from Arts & Sciences, we can see that rather than becoming a fully cultivated individual, a student from Rollins College is learning a trade more so than having a broader perspective of the world.

An example for this is clearly the creation of the Business Administration major that basically gets rid of the language and culture requirements normally needed for an INB major. Are we becoming more simplistic just so we can get more students? This phenomenon can be seen also in the revisions of the Gen Ed program that have been done in the past, which have been accentuating the notion that many come here in order to hone a narrower vocation upon graduation. Since when are we trying to be like a German Hochschule, one of the higher education institutions that centers in particular areas, rather than opening the minds of individuals to a much larger spectrum of alternatives and disciplines?

This is liberal arts, after all, and the idea of a major is traditionally a field of study, not the specialized, pre-professional training that would typically result from a masters degree. If the proposed changes take place, students could eventually take online classes at Rollins that will give them not only college credit, but the same diploma that they would have earned through traditional classes.

This makes me wonder just how valuable the Rollins degree that my parents and I are paying for will be. I just hope that Rollins – as the number one regional college in the South – will make the best decisions and will continue to be a liberal arts institution that is searching for the magis of knowledge, which is unlimited.

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