This Letter to the Editor is written in response to an earlier column published by Reed Rosenbacher titled “Rethinking the engineering humanities requirement.”
The University of Michigan requires College of Engineering students to take at least three humanities credits and 16 credits of Liberal Arts Courses, of which three in either the humanities or social sciences must be considered upper-level. So, what do we do? We enroll in a 300-level humanities course without required prerequisites, like Greek mythology, musicology or philosophy. Many of us do enjoy taking classes outside our major, but the 128-credit graduation requirement makes it difficult to squeeze in more than what is absolutely required. It’s not that we are “disinterested,” but we want to graduate eventually.
Overall, I think you bring up a good point: The humanities requirement (and even graduation requirements overall) for Engineering students could use rethinking and some added flexibility. In fact, I may even say that most of “us” agree with you.
However, your approach was ignorant and your ad hominem arguments were juvenile and unoriginal. Blanket statements like, “Engineering students … tend not to have the experience it takes to contribute to humanities courses in a way that elevates the conversation” are fallacious and do not argue a point. Then trying to ease the blow with something that reads, “Oh, no offense” does not retain respect.
As for your proposals, Proposal 3 had the most merit. I agree that a positive change is welcome. But Proposal 1 was unanimously ruled unconstitutional in 1954 (see Brown v. Board of Education). And we like to reserve ideas like Proposal 2 for co-ed intramural soccer teams, not higher education.
If you are looking for unwelcome suggestions for how to improve your time here at Michigan, I took the liberty of writing a couple. I’ll call them “Amendments.”
Amendment 1: If our “hollow comments” filling up your 300-level philosophy class discussion is so bothersome, then perhaps you should take classes requiring humanities prerequisites.
Amendment 2: If you are looking for real change in the College of Engineering, we have official channels for making such recommendations, beginning with submitting your complaints.
Both of these are better options than ripping on your “fellow students” in the student newspaper.
One more thing: Please don’t dilute our language with misused vocabulary. The word “phenomenon” is typically reserved for mass bird migrations and glacial formations, not class registration.
Palmer Corbett is a senior studying Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.