Texas State officials must pay greater attention to the study of humanities by increasing the availability of intellectual literature around campus for students to read.
The study of the humanities is vital to our national life, according to a March 7, 2011 speech by current Cornell University President David Skorton. In the same speech he gave at the National Humanities Alliance annual membership meeting, Skorton said an estimated more than 2.5 million Americans are engaged in a broad range of humanities professions. But some people may have forgotten the importance, as humanities programs across the nation are facing drastic reductions in federal funding. This cannot be overlooked.
Texas State students need to be aware of the importance of humanities programs because other universities may already be shifting focus to more technical plans. Florida lawmakers are urging its 12 state universities to guide students to majors in high demand for the job market, according to a Dec. 9, 2012 New York Times article. In other words, some administrations may be sacrificing the value of humanities education plans in order to stimulate the economy with technical degrees. This could be Texas State’s chance to take a stand against the declining focus on humanities at universities across the country.
When students embrace the ability to create, bask in the glory of conscious freedom and contribute to an expansion of the arts, interest is sparked in the humanities to fuel its sustainment. When students take part in creative works, they may become eager to participate or contribute more, especially when recognition is received. In this way, students have the opportunity as an academic entity to increase the value of the humanities on their own. The works of Texas State students should be recognized, praised and made available everywhere on campus.
Perhaps unknown by some, the university’s Department of English pieces together a literary journal named Persona that is solely comprised of student submissions of art, poetry, photography and prose. It is the department’s strategy to “stimulate the artistic growth of students as well as encourage those with a creative flair to display their work,” according to the Texas State website. The Texas State Master of Fine Arts program founded an online literary journal in 2006 named Front Porch, which seeks to publish and recognize student successes in the humanities. These types of literary outlets might be an effective catalyst for increasing the university’s creative development, and additional forums for students to submit and display work should be created.
Currently, aside from The University Star, the only campus literature options widely available are the Study Breaks and BobcatFans magazines. Some university resources should be allocated to promote Persona’s online presence and possibly print editions of Front Porch to be made as equally available as the trend magazines. As it stands, Persona is usually only distributed around liberal arts buildings or specifically in the English department office, said Roger Jones, English professor and faculty advisor of the magazine. This area excludes a majority of students focused on other disciplines who may not have classes around the liberal arts buildings. Jones said the limited copies of Front Porch are snatched up very quickly. This may exclude a number of students from ever hearing about the publication or having a chance to get involved.
Some may agree with Kandace McNeely, accounting freshman, who said if literary journals were readily available around campus, students would likely read the works of their peers more often than trend magazines. Copies of the journals could be placed around campus to ensure a wider range of students notice the publications and maybe even become interested in submitting work of their own. A widely available media outlet for displaying these works may be the push needed to create a community of students who are excited to contribute to the increased presence of humanities.
In light of the direction some legislators are beginning to lean, now is the time to begin increasing the value of the humanities and protect the departments at Texas State.