Editorial: Curriculum debate should be one-sided
Communications studies should not take precedent over cultural diversity classes
Published: Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 11:06
A large conference room in Academic Building 4 is playing host arena to a boxing bout in the largest degree.
In this corner, a speech class requirement.
In the other corner, a language, philosophy and cultural studies class.
However, it’s quite clear to the Houstonian staff that cutting classes that promote diversity is not the option…especially for a speech class.
The 2014 core curriculum committee is split over whether or not to require three hours of speech, or communication studies, class. To do so, the committee would have to cut either (a) the amount of English classes, or (b) cut component area 4 (language, philosophy, and cultural studies).
In the new core curriculum, the previous nine hours in component area 4 (three for visual/performing arts, three for cultural studies, and three for philosophy) will be replaced by only a three hour requirement called language, philosophy, and cultural studies. It’ll let students choose from all the classes in the previous component.
One goal of the university (to quote the mission statement and goals) is to "promote and support diversity and provide equitable opportunities for underrepresented groups."
A good way to promote diversity is to expand cultural classes and require foreign languages…not cut them out entirely. At least the status quo allows for the exposure to other cultures, which is desperately needed especially in Texas. Currently, Hispanics are the largest growing population in the United States and exposure to their culture is vital.
Interestingly enough, there are no representatives from any of the seven communication studies professors on the core committee, yet there is a huge push for speech from a minority of the committee. It seems there is only an interest in protecting a relatively small department on a university-wide level.
A second problem with doing this: speech is a blow-off class. Ask any student who has taken a speech class if they learned anything. Or if they had fun. The answer is going to be "probably not."
Instead what they will say is that "it was super easy" or "it’s an easy A." While the university’s goal shouldn’t be to bludgeon student over the head with difficult classes, at least they should consider if the programs they are funneling money into are actually effective.
Yet another problem is forcing all students to take the same speech class. Talk on the committee shows that certain members want all students to take COMS 1361 Public Speaking. Even if the idea of eliminating culture classes gets approved, having all students take the same course is a waste of time.
Business students would benefit more from COMS 2382 Communication for Business and the Professions. Political science students benefit more from COMS 2384 Argumentation and Debate. Nursing students from COMS 3372 Interpersonal Health Communication. A public speaking requirement would just vacuum wasted dollars out of students wallets.
Over the last few years, the communication studies department is struggling to maintain enough students to retain its degree plan with the Texas State University System Board of Regents.
In most cases, students obviously don’t want to take a speech course, especially one they don’t learn from or like going to. This is not to say that students should only take classes they want to, but that the university wouldn’t be doing its due diligence in doing what’s right for the students.
The best solution to the issue is to not put speech in the core and leave the diversity and culture classes at three hours. Then allow individual departments to decide whether or not to include speech in their degree track.
The curriculum committee is actually slimming the core down from its current 48 hours to 42. This leaves six more hours open for the departments to add to their degree tracks if they so desire. Several already do this.
Business, education, political science (and more) students are already required to take certain speech classes. So if, for example, the math department decided it’s students need a math course, they can put one in. If not, there is no need.