The University enjoys bragging about its many levels of diversity, and contained within the scope of this increasingly ambiguous concept is the variety of courses the University has to offer. To make sure that its many diverse students all get diverse educations full of diversity, the University, like many others across the nation, has a set of distribution requirements. And among the categories that can fill these distribution requirements is a little gem called “creative expression.”

Now, I love the idea of creative expression, which might be why I’ve met the requirement several times over. The fact that I was once a creative writing major certainly contributed to this redundancy. But the first class I took that met this requirement was an RC drama class. It was small, but I really enjoyed the class and the group of students in it. That is, once that one annoying guy left.

And this is really the story of that one annoying guy, and the annoying guys in arts classes everywhere. This snarky little devil clearly had no appreciation for or interest in drama. When we went around in a circle the first day, introducing ourselves and explaining why we were taking the class, he openly admitted that he just needed creative expression credits. He spoke arrogantly, as though creativity was beneath him and that anyone who willingly took a drama class was a wannabe with misguided priorities. One more class session and he was gone.

It’s people like Captain Asshole who have convinced me that including creative expression in the distribution requirements is a mistake. The arts, perhaps more than any other field, rely on enjoyment and appreciation. The artist must enjoy creating the art, and the art must be appreciated in some way by its audience. It really only takes one downer to ruin the experience for everyone. It’s like when you see a movie you really enjoy with someone who doesn’t like it at all. Your movie-mate’s negative energy inevitably brings you down.

All classes are susceptible to this negative energy, but arts classes are particularly prone to it by virtue of the fact that many of the most accessible arts classes involve ensemble work. If someone falls asleep in your big science lecture, or even your small science discussion, it doesn’t really have much of an effect on your own work (unless that person snores loudly, I guess). But for a choir class, the jazz hands and gospel step aren’t likely to excite anyone if there’s a distractingly bored student texting in the back row of the group.

Now, perhaps luckily, it’s not actually required that each student take a creative expression class (outside of the Residential College, that is). For most students, it is but one of a slew of options that can fulfill the second half of the distribution requirements. So you’d think this would lead to some form of self-selection in arts classes. But some students will suffer great boredom for what they think will be an easy A in an arts class. And they often don’t give a damn whether they ruin it for the rest of us.

So, in an odd twist of fate, it seems the arts classes could be improved on campus by eliminating the added incentive to take the courses. But there remains another loose end — the University’s original reason for this requirement. Does the detrimental effect that one unenthused student imposes on an ensemble counterbalance the potential gains of exposing art to people who may have otherwise not bothered to get involved? Surely there must be at least a few instances where the guy who only took an arts class for the creative expression credits ended up really loving it.

The utilitarian in me wishes there were real data out there on this subject, but sadly there aren’t statistics on the enjoyment experienced by students who took arts classes for distribution, nor will there ever be. So for now, I vote that creative expression be stricken from the distribution requirements. The arts should be their own incentive. I personally think that all students should at least try an artistic class in their academic careers, but I don’t think they should have to finish it if they don’t enjoy it. So to those of you reading this who haven’t yet considered it, try a choir or drama class if you have some free space in your schedule. But do it for yourself, not for the University.

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