April 9, 2013

Letter: Artistic differences

Frustrating scarcity of Core art classes results in wasted time, talent for College students.

Three years ago, I chose UChicago over UC Berkeley, in part because of the University of California’s budget cuts. During my Berkeley visit, I talked with a number of students who had been forced to take summer classes or graduate late due to required classes being cut, and I wanted no part of that. I came to UChicago expecting that there would be no problems getting into required classes at a university with an endowment in the billions and a strong undergraduate college.

Overall, my expectations have been proved correct. However, the arts requirement has been a glaring exception. Along with many of my friends, I’ve been bidding for arts classes for three years, but to no avail. Faced with a heavy load of major classes next year that all but require me to get my arts core out of the way early, I emailed professors and attended four sections of arts core classes only to find forty people showing up for classes capped at twenty, competing for two or three open spots. Most alarmingly, in all of the classes I attended, there seemed to be more graduating—or, rather, desperately trying to graduate—fourth-years attempting to pink-slip into the class than there were available spaces. In a couple, there were several times more. Needless to say, I did not get into any of the six classes I tried to get into, nor do I expect to next quarter. Worse yet, there are apparently a number of fourth-years who face the possibility of being denied a degree despite their best efforts to satisfy all their degree requirements.

If the University persists in requiring all undergraduates to take one of the very small number of art, music, and drama classes approved as part of the Core curriculum, it must dramatically increase the number of sections offered each quarter, especially for the most-requested classes, like drama. Making most undergraduates expend considerable time and effort scurrying between dozens of art classes only to be forced to take one they’re not particularly interested in because nothing else is available is a careless policy at best and unconscionable neglect at worst. UChicago students have better things on which to spend their time and energy than begging to get into art classes. The University would do well to alleviate this unnecessary hindrance.

Alex Kolchinski, Class of 2014