What’s in a name?

Lauren McClellan
Guest Columnist

When I came to VCU in August 2010, I entered as a freshman into the School of Mass Communications. Since I’ve been here, it has always been called just that: the VCU School of Mass Communications.

Now, in my last year here as undergraduate student, the name has changed to something that doesn’t make much sense to me and other mass communication students. We are now students of the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture.

I’ve learned plenty about media from the School of Mass Communications since I’ve been here, sure. The mass communications curriculum is strangely structured and I don’t feel that the classes I’ve taken in the past years have prepared me for my print/online journalism senior capstone classes, but that’s a different editorial for a different time.

That second part of the name, in my opinion, doesn’t have much to do with my major.

Of course the students coming out of VCU should be cultured; that will help us prepare for being citizens of the global community and it will teach us tolerance and acceptance. But has the School of Mass Communications really taught me that much about culture?

I don’t think it has.

I’ve learned how to write in AP Style. I’ve learned how to write hard news stories, features, broadcast scripts and press releases. I’ve learned how to use a production camera. But the School of Mass Communications has not been the school that has taught any of us anything about culture.

I’ve learned more about culture by making friends who came from different backgrounds than me and who have different worldviews than I do. I’ve learned about culture by attending events that taught me about different parts of the world. I’ve learned about culture by taking classes from a wide range of departments and professors. I‘ve learned about culture by involving myself in different organizations. I’ve learned about culture by working for the National Scholarship Office, where we have students and alumni applying to go do amazing things in every different corner of the world.

I’ve learned to be tolerant, accepting and open to other people’s opinions, but the School of Mass Communications didn’t teach me that. There’s not a 100-level MASC course that taught me about culture.

I understand that VCU needs donors, of course. When people who have the resources donate to higher education, it’s not a bad thing. It helps schools thrive. It’s even better when it comes from an alumnus such as Mr. Richard T. Robertson. He’s just giving back to the school that taught him.

But I feel like it is just misleading unless the school plans to overhaul their curriculum to include some classes that actually combine media and culture many different cultures.

I’ve learned about culture by just attending VCU. I don’t think the School of Mass Communications should try to take credit for something they didn’t teach me themselves.

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