Opinions

Despite Recent Controversy, Student Affirms Eastern’s Claim as a Liberal Arts School

Eastern University defines itself as a liberal arts school, but there is some controversy among students if they should be able to stick with this title. Students, and presumably faculty members, have noticed that Eastern does not live up to the title of liberal arts, due to their lack of classes in the “arts” category.

Before discussing this topic further, I believe it is important to define what liberal arts actually means. According to Dictionary.com, a liberal arts college is “the academic course of instruction at a college intended to provide general knowledge and comprising the arts, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences, as opposed to professional or technical subjects.” When I hear people talking about Eastern as a liberal arts school, they tend to only focus on the “arts” category but I think it is important to keep the other categories in mind.

Personally, I notice the fact that arts are a part of the definition where Eastern is lacking, but there are also other important aspects that the school focuses on. I admire Eastern for being a liberal arts school because we are not confined to one category of classes. Instead, we are required to take several General Education classes which help to expand each student’s knowledge and interests. I believe Eastern can fairly call themselves a liberal arts school because they have these options for us to choose from.

That being said, I also believe they need to expand and make funding their art programs more of a priority. To my knowledge, the only art classes/majors Eastern University offers at the St. Davids location are music and dance, which is not enough. I remember when I first got to Eastern and heard they did not have any art classes. I was shocked. I knew other students going to liberal arts schools with drawing, painting, and ceramics classes. I was not planning on majoring or minoring in art, but I would have enjoyed access to art classes while at college. In my opinion, that is where Eastern is lacking the most in their liberal arts title.

Although they have music and dance majors, the vocations are underfunded and frequently threatened with discontinuation. At one point, dance was cut out as a major completely. Students were left with the option of a dance minor and subsequently limited funding.

My freshman year (2016) was the first year students had no option of a dance major, although some existing dance majors were grandfathered into the degree. Last year, the final dance majors graduated that were left at Eastern. This was a sad time for dance lovers and those minoring who had intended to complete a major. However, this Fall, the dance department was able to bring the major back, which was exciting news for all.

Though I believe that Eastern lives up to the term “liberal arts college” due to the variety of classes and majors they have to offer, Eastern  needs to maintain an equal focus for all departments, not just a select few. It would be great to expand existing departments and create additional ones, but until then, Eastern needs to focus on the departments they have and not let them slip away like they almost did with the dance major.

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