Saving the Humanities at Drury University

I’m sure everybody is well aware of the events going on here at Drury. Twelve faculty members will not get their contracts renewed at the end of this year or next year. Most of these faculty members specialize in the humanities, which means that many departments in the humanities are not going to receive as much attention as they used to. While all of this is going on, new classes in animation, graphic design, and the sciences are being added. Drury seems to be moving away from a liberal arts school (that may not be the case, but that is what I perceive). Even though things look bad now and have caused quite a bit of upset, we need to move away from all the negativity going around.

The Facebook page “Save Drury University as a Liberal Arts School” has gained quite a bit of attention in the last few days which is fantastic, but the negativity on the page is not helping anything. How much of the information on the page is fact and how much is simply rumor? Asking questions and finding out more information about how and why these decisions were made is also a way that you can gain understanding of what is going on. Make sure you know the facts before you start pointing fingers. I’m sure getting rid of twelve faculty members was not an easy decision.

I think it’s great that so many students are upset with the decisions being made and are wanting to make a difference. However, I do not think skipping class is the best way to prove your point. Why would I skip classes taught by professors that I love? It seems contradictory to me. If you enjoyed having class with them, wouldn’t you want be in class? I’m not saying this won’t make a statement, I’m just thinking that there may be a better way to address this. Writing letters is always a good idea, but keep the message positive. Talk about how the humanities and certain professors have made an impact during your time here at Drury. There are “I Heart HUM” fliers that are being placed around campus (especially in Pearsons and Burnham where the humanities reside). You can write on these and explain why the humanities are important to you. For example, I would write that classes in the humanities allow me to study cultures different than my own. Whatever your reason is for studying the humanities, write it down on one of the fliers and show other why it is important for us to keep the humanities.

There is a petition going around online that you can sign to make a difference. It is asking for more information about the decision to get rid of faculty, exploring alternative options, and asking to get students involved in these decision. These decisions affect many if not all of us on campus, so we should be allowed to at least have a say in what is going on. For anybody interested, there is going to be a meeting on October 5th where students can discuss a course of action to protest the decisions that have been made.

I’m not saying I have the answers as to what we should do in this situation. I’m just suggesting that we might want to rethink our strategy if we want to make a difference. We should ask questions and get information from a reliable source, not a Facebook page where ‘somebody heard this from somebody who talked to that guy’. Be positive when trying to convey a message. Saying something like “that professor really made this class enjoyable. I learned so much and I’m going to miss him” is going to make a better impression than “Drury is stupid for cutting down faculty size”. We may not be able to make a difference, but we could still try. Asking for more information, writing letters, and letting people know how important the humanities and the professors are to you may help get our message across. It will show that we are unhappy, and we want this decision to be reversed.

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One Comment

  1. I have been following a lot of the comments on the Save the Liberal Arts Facebook page and I was truly moved by the organizational style of the students and many of the alumni who chose to write on the page. I found that many of the students knew how to defend the liberal arts, and applied the lessons of rhetoric learned in the classroom. I saw a lot of old history “faces” pop up and chime in about their experiences in Burnham hall. I think Drury’s great faculty and its personalized education helped shape these experiences, so I’m writing to give credit to the multiplicity of rational voices out there and thank students and faculty for their devotion to the liberal arts.

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