It’s something College of Liberal Arts (CLA) majors never stop hearing: “Your major isn’t even hard! Why are you complaining?” “You don’t know what it’s like to work hard!” “Yeah, but at least you don’t have to do math.”
From the moment we arrive at Cal Poly, many of our peers never let us forget that we simply aren’t as important as College of Engineering (CENG) or College of Science and Math (COSAM). That–even though we have as much on our plates as they do–we’re fine because at least we don’t have to do math!
CLA majors are not stupid. We’re not futureless. We are intelligent individuals with bright futures ahead of us, and we are tired of hearing that we are not as important as COSAM or CENG. I am not saying that COSAM and CENG do not present their own difficulties, or are any less difficult than being a CLA major. I get it. In many instances, I understand that COSAM and CENG simply are harder than CLA. But that doesn’t make us any less important. That doesn’t suddenly negate our hard work, nor does our “lack of math” mean that we are any less intelligent than any aerospace engineer or mathematics major. Our minds simply work differently than yours.
CLA majors are everywhere in your lives. They are your teachers, your entertainers, your psychologists, your politicians and even your physicists (Cal Poly offers a Bachelor of Arts as degree for physics majors). Without us, you would not have movies, songs, dance or music. We permeate every aspect of everyone’s everyday life, and we are important.
The stigma facing Liberal Arts majors is one that is apparent in every campus across the nation. Liberal Arts are thought of as lesser for the lack of math and science, or the lack of “difficulty.” However, while I have heard from my COSAM and CENG friends that their classes are difficult, many of them have come to me on several occasions for help with writing essays, understanding reading assignments and advice on public speaking, in the same way that I go to them for help with physics or calculus.
Intelligence is not defined by the amount of math you have to do to obtain your degree. You are not limited by your ability to crunch numbers or understand the trajectory of a planet to be considered intelligent. There are many things that COSAM or CENG students are “better” at than CLA students, but in return, there are many things that CLA students are “better” at than COSAM and CENG students. These differences refer only to your intellectual skillset, and not the worth of your character.
CLA students are just as worthy of respect as COSAM and CENG. We work just as hard as the rest of the campus, and we spend hours upon hours perfecting essays, rereading passages, rehearsing speeches and practicing instruments. We are mastering skills, just as COSAM and CENG students are; they just happen to be skills that set us apart.
We are just as important as you. All we ask is that you quit stigmatizing us as lazy, incompetent and unintelligent, just because our minds do not work the same as yours. Not everyone is meant to be good at math, just as not everyone is meant to be good at writing and speaking. And that is okay.