Ursinus must support the humanities through its facilities

Chloe Sheraden


Olin is falling apart and Ursinus needs to do something. If you have walked into Olin within the past month, you will have noticed the flood from a pipe burst, the broken elevator, and the broken printer. All of these issues have been fixed, but they should have been dealt with before they turned into an issue.

Senior Biochemistry major Gabby Lomanto, who was on crutches while taking a class in Olin for her Spanish minor, said, “I had to crutch up three flights of stairs to make it to class when [the elevator] wasn’t working.”

The dilapidation of Olin is emblematic of the fact that our school does not care enough about our humanities departments. For humanities majors, Olin is supposed to be our home and work space, but these problems make Olin an inconvenient place to inhabit.  How are we supposed to feel comfortable in our space when it’s falling apart?

This is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If Ursinus does not provide the humanities majors with adequate places to work and study, then the humanities programs will not be successful or produce adequate research. Ursinus is not providing enough adequate space for humanities majors, instead seeming to favor science and math majors by building the Innovation and Discovery Center (IDC) and giving STEM students help rooms and TA sessions.

The building of the IDC is a huge talking point for Ursinus and the Annual Fund. The administration of Ursinus now prides itself on the IDC and will continue to for years to come. The main justification of this massive project, according to Ursinus’ website, is that it will be interdisciplinary, integrating all subject matter. However, the Ursinus website also states that the IDC is “designed with the ‘science of the future’ in mind” to encourage scientific leaders with technology-enhanced classrooms and laboratories, and the building will physically connect the two science buildings Pfahler and Thomas.

Meanwhile, Ursinus already does not provide adequate facilities for humanities majors.  How can I justify my Ursinus tuition when I am paying for Olin to be smelly (after extensive clean-up) from pipe bursts and Ritter to be dilapidated? While it is important to talk about Ritter here as well, Olin is one of two academic buildings on campus that houses only humanities majors, in addition to the Kaleidoscope, built in 2005. Ursinus has to start valuing humanities majors more if they want to get more money back from us in the future.

Tour guides brag about our CIE curriculum and the Berman museum, which are centered on the humanities, but if we want more humanities majors here, we should upgrade our humanities facilities. However, it seems Ursinus does not want humanities majors here. They do not bring in as much money as STEM majors do, according to Forbes.com’s “The College Degrees with the Highest Starting Salaries In 2016.”

Ursinus clearly does not believe that I have the potential, as a History major, to go out into the world and be as successful as the science and social science majors. My department and so many others advise their students to understand that they can do almost anything with their major. I can analyze data, make connections between different sources, and find trends. I know this is not the same education that business or STEM majors receive, but it is just as relevant in post-grad careers.

Ursinus correlates STEM majors with high salaries and therefore will continue to boost the façade of the STEM education program for prospective students. If we show prospective students that we do not care about humanities majors, how will we get more humanities students? I know for a fact I did not come to Ursinus because it was a pseudo-research university. I came here because Ursinus was advertised as a small, liberal arts college.

I do not want this to be read as a piece about hating STEM majors and I understand that STEM majors still have problems securing funding and equipment. I want this to be a call to action for Ursinus. I want the administration to start treating my fellow humanities majors and myself as productive individuals on this campus. There needs to be permanent, preventative solutions for all buildings on campus, especially Olin. We cannot allow Band-Aid solutions to continue to be accepted in our humanities education. Olin is one of the most welcoming academic buildings, being located in the heart of campus. We have to show our prospective students that humanities majors are worth it. We deserve quality buildings and class spaces.

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