By: Kitty Cheung, Staff Writer
Beedie snobs. Snowflake GSWS students. Useless arts degrees. Why are these stereotypes and criticisms so familiar? These snap judgements are an indication of callousness between students of different departments. But university should be a place to learn about diverse ideas. Particularly at SFU where, through our WQB requirements, we’re supposedly pursuing a more well-rounded, open-minded education. So why the malice? Students should be able to appreciate all other disciplines offered at the university.
Questions of “What do you study?” or “What’s your major?” should not transform one side of the conversation into an open target. It can be pretty damaging to make others feel insecure about their choice of study, particularly for first-year students who may have come to university immediately after high school.
For these students, their intended programs were a decision that they made while in high school, which is often way too young to decide your life track, professional future, career destiny, or whatever it is that you want to do with your life (even if, spoiler alert, you are not your degree). To have your university experience begin with this choice being doubted by nearly everybody you meet is a repetitive and exhausting ordeal.
It’s also important to realize that a major is not a ball and chain. We are not tied to our degrees; more and more people today are pursuing cross-disciplinary careers. This makes already confrontational comments such as “What are you going to do with that degree?” relatively dated and obsolete.
Speaking from the perspective of a student who started in arts, I recall getting the aforementioned question quite often. The implication is that what you’re studying isn’t important, or valued. However, the world’s challenges are rarely certain or straightforward, making the breadth of understanding gained in an arts degree valuable in navigating life’s many ambiguities.
For those who can’t see the value in different disciplines, if your immediate response is to mock and belittle different fields of study, you’re going to have trouble surviving in the professional world. Often times, collaboration between different fields is required for meaningful work or projects, whether that be a combination of critical thinking and writing skills honed in arts, scientific research abilities, technical knowledge, business sense, or other fields.
It would be ridiculously disrespectful to bad-mouth someone’s area of expertise in a professional work environment, so why practice these foul habits at school? We all came to SFU or FIC to pursue higher education, and so we should be able to respect the different fields which our fellow students choose to dedicate their time towards.
I do not intend to imply that SFU should become some harmonious circle with students of different majors all holding hands and dancing around the AQ pond. However, university life could benefit from more respect between students of different departments.