I recently read an article from the Baltimore Sun entitled "St. Mary's College: a cautionary tale for America's bloated higher education system" by Annie Neal. I would like to express my distaste for this article and it's obvious misinformation.
I am a student of St. Mary's College, Class of 2014, Anthropology major, Lambda Alpha member, financial aid assistant, resident assistant and peer mentor. I would like to inform the newspaper and the author about how unhappy I am with the Baltimore Sun for publishing these blatant lies about an institution that I hold dear to my heart. St. Mary's is a very unique place and I do not believe it deserves this sort of ridicule. I take pride in the fact that I do not go to a larger or more well known higher education establishment. The knowledge capacity of my classmates and myself was diminished in this article, and I know for a fact that we are no less than any other students at any other college or university. Every college student should be respected for taking the leap of faith into higher education during this economy, I hold three jobs to keep me in school, and I am proud I chose St. Mary's to work this hard for.
There is a paragraph in the article that I would like to comment on. The paragraph is as follows: "For tuition of $14,865 a year, students can graduate without exposure to literature, American history or government, foreign language, or composition. Instead, freshmen can pick from a range of trendy seminars including 'Pimp My Ride: Materialism in Human Life,' which examines such crucial topics as 'Why do we wear our bling on our sleeves?' [I am actually the peer mentor for this freshman seminar class.] Or "Songs of Protest and Social Change," which explores songs of the 1960s and 1970s; or "Horror Film: Of Monsters and Monstrosities," which will not only introduce students to late silent era and vampire classics but will also satisfy a requirement for a minor in women, gender, and sexuality studies. With a mind filled with the knowledge from these courses, who needs literature, composition, foreign language or American history?"
First of all the Core Curriculum does require students to take a foreign language, that is a blatant lie. As for the other requirements that the author claims we do not have, students have to take at least two of them to graduate. St. Mary's does not have rigid requirements like other institutions, this is true. We would rather let students choose from broader categories so they get a chance to explore their own interests and take classes they would not have noticed otherwise. Please tell your authors, as well as your editors, to do their research before writing and publishing an article. I actually did a research project on the Core Curriculum this past semester and found that it enhances social interactions between students on campus and allows for a broader view of the world among St. Mary's students. These are qualities I find essential to a college campus. If you would like a copy of my research paper please let me know.
Another great thing about the Core Curriculum, which the article completely ignored, is the Experiencing Liberal Arts in the World (ELAW) requirement. We require our students to study abroad, participate in an internship or take a course that requires students to volunteer in the St. Mary's County community. This is an amazing part of St. Mary's. We truly emphasize the opposite of "bubble" state of mind, but rather a worldly one.
I also find it personally insulting that the author would criticize our first year seminars (yes we do not call first years "freshman" at St. Mary's because this provides for a negative connotation). I am actually the peer mentor for the Pimp My Ride seminar class next semester, and I do not believe the author has the right to criticize the course content, the professor or the students involved with this seminar. First year seminars are designed to help students adjust to academics and social life in college. However, while the main focus is on adjusting to college the different seminars provide different discussion points in order to exhibit successful seminar, writing, composition, presentation, debating, etc. in college and in life. The Primp My Ride seminar discusses materialism in culture and how important material items are to different cultures, including our own. Materialism does not make something inauthentic, but rather can encourage authenticity within a culture. Students will learn (in a fun way) how to be a good college student with examples of materialism in culture beginning with the 19th century carriage all the way to current portrayals of "pimping" out modern rides.
There are many other problems I have with this article, but for the time being I will just stick with what I've written. I hope that this e-mail was not found to be violent or cruel because that is not my intention. It is simply supposed to be educational and informative. I truly want to give the Baltimore Sun a different view of St. Mary's than the one that was portrayed by Ms. Annie Neal.
Becca Quick, St. Mary's City