Volume 93, Issue 55

Tuesday, December 7, 1999


Stigma was attached to the artistic

Looking back on an old letter

Putting comments in context

Would the university sell out?

Inaccurate portrayal of French

Napster not educational

Stigma was attached to the artistic

Re: "Contemplating academic competence at Western," Nov. 30

To the Editor:

Finally, the flip side of the issue emerges. After coming to Western and learning of the stigma attached to arts and social sciences students and their Bachelor of Arts degrees, the lowly BA is championed along with the generalized education it grants.

While many students registered in faculties other than arts and social sciences feel that earning a BA is easier than earning a science or engineering degree, there is almost a universal feeling of relief among those groups that essay courses are not mandatory and in fact discouraged in their programs. It seems that science and engineering students are admitting that working toward a BA is no easier, or harder, than working toward a BSc – it's simply different.

Perhaps another reason why BA degrees seem less attractive is their lack of inherent marketability. Two graduates from a particular field of engineering are likely to have taken many of the same courses, whereas two arts students may have taken entirely different programs.

Employers have a better idea what degrees in the sciences entail. Arts degrees, by their nature, have to be explained in depth. Rather than marketing the degree, the arts or social sciences student must lean more about marketing individual skills they have acquired in earning their education.

Too often, university success is equated with materialistic gains in the future. It is imagined that those in science fill lucrative fields such as computer science, medicine and sports therapy – in essence, jobs which are equated with higher salaries. Arts and social sciences students occupy fields such as museum curators, journalists and social workers – jobs which often pay less, but are often no less demanding than their BSc counterparts. Neither field is more important than the other.

The fact that social sciences students take computer science courses and that future science majors take philosophy is certainly an indicator of the inseparability and co-existence of the arts and sciences. Formal education isn't the entire story. Obviously, a person who has no people skills will be sorely disadvantaged at a job interview and in any job that involves working with people. Someone who can't use a computer will have trouble working in most modern environments.

Graduating from university is only part of the battle. Bookish education looks good on paper, but inevitably it's the skills one possesses that lands and keeps, the job.

Curtis W. L. Jones
Sociology I

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Copyright The Gazette 1999