For Gov. Patrick McCrory, you might as well hang up your guitar, burn your dog-eared copy of “The Republic” and forget about whatever Freud thinks.
On Jan. 29, the governor of North Carolina announced his plans to restructure the state’s public university system in order to prize majors that supposedly have a better chance of yielding post-graduate jobs. McCrory’s proposed legislation will reevaluate how funding is being allocated in North Carolina’s public universities.
During the conversation, which was held on a national public radio show, Gov. McCrory announced legislation that would actively discourage students from pursuing liberal arts degrees.
“[This legislation] would change the basic formula in how education money is given out to our universities and our community colleges,” McCrory said. “It’s not based on butts in seats but on how many of those butts can get jobs.”
If passed, McCrory’s legislation will narrow the field for students who are interested in these many topics but don’t have the financial resources to pursue their passion. Rather than encourage students to follow their varied aspirations, this legislation will restrict the choices available at a public institute of higher education.
McCrory’s overt disdain of the liberal arts field echoes statements made by Florida Gov. Rick Scott back in late 2011. Scott deliberately attacked anthropology majors, saying their degrees were unnecessary.
McCrory and Scott inaccurately suppose that the knowledge gained from liberal arts majors is essentially useless in a post-graduate world. As McCrory stated during his announcement, “If you want to take gender studies that’s fine, go to a private school and take it. But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job.”
While the post-graduate job economy is a serious issue that needs to be evaluated in our nation, these governors are misguided in their beliefs that slashing a liberal arts education will solve the problem. The critical tools offered by majors like philosophy and anthropology are what help establish well-rounded and inquisitive thinkers. In restricting access to these subjects, the governors are merely inhibiting the development of powerful minds willing to tackle the dilemmas of the world.
Contrary to Gov. McCrory’s beliefs, liberal arts degrees do prepare students for the outside world. They help build strong backgrounds in teamwork, problem solving, critical analysis and writing skills, to name just a few of the benefits. Gov. McCrory’s blind assessment of the liberal arts ignores these many advantages.
Perhaps more infuriating is the fact that these governors consider a college education merely a vehicle for the job market. The governors’ obsession with structuring public education around the goal of finding a job is a regressive mentality that suffocates the very pillars of diversity and critical thinking that define higher education.
In response to McCrory’s proposed legislation, Joanne Hershfield, the chair of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s women’s and gender studies department, called his comments “frightening.”
We at City on a Hill Press stand with this response and consider the legislation a violation of the rights promised to all who enter an institution of higher education. As a space wherein people are promoted for their diverse interests and passions, college must remain equal and open-minded to all degrees.