Letter to the Editor: cross-disciplinary elimination

Illustration by Jiaqi Zhou
Illustration by Jiaqi Zhou
Illustration by Jiaqi Zhou
Illustration by Jiaqi Zhou

Dear Editor,

Every classroom is a peculiar place, with its own kinds of privilege. When I’m engaged in a topic, I’m on a warpath — six cylinder mode. When it’s the exact opposite, I internalize.

Since arriving at VCU in 2013, the courses that have fundamentally engaged me the most have been special topics and/or cross-disciplinary courses.

A faculty member recently mentioned these classes in particular are in high risk of no longer being offered. I interpreted it as a fiscal issue, which seemed petty and absurd. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

While it may pose a threat to certain departmental budgets, a palpable solution starts by distinguishing between farce and fact. For instance, cross disciplinary courses demand an overlap between faculty and resources.

The College of Humanities and Sciences contains many concentrations and departments — fact. The budget dilemma arises when departments aren’t accountable for their borrowing and lending antics — fact.

What had me so at odds when hearing this news was the continued construction, The Children’s Hospital at MCV in tandem to the completion of Cabell’s renovations expansion. In general, construction on VCU’s physical campus is on an uptick — this is a fact.

There are an ample amount of scholarly and academic based opportunities made possible by the University. I’m not suggesting our intellectual infrastructure is less prominent to the surface. Perhaps, it’s the areas of growth and development that needed to be refocused.

After all the intangible virtues of any institution manifest best through the impression it leaves on our experience. By functioning in a counterculture way, the norms of learning are stretched. Eclipsed into a much longer conversation, already well underway.

Last Fall, Professor Canfield’s, special topics class Gender, Prison, and Pop Culture amplified the social, economic and moral tensions that so much of the class had been dealing with in their personal life.

There was an incentive to live in the present, you know, which motivates the efforts to keep in touch beyond the brevity of a semester. Independently our voices engineered an initiative to ask deeper, or at least different questions. Rhetorical or not.

We not only had space to react but to reflect and reconsider our stance. By addressing difference as equal in the classroom and treating each discipline with the same diligence, we stand to gain access to the human condition in its totality.

I understand the urge to maintain and pave a legacy for alumni to have as visible monuments to their alma mater, and the buildings are gorgeous, however there is an immaterial value in access. Cross courses ultimately granted me access to without having to divorce the real world from my studies.

Sylvia Jones, senior

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