The University of Wisconsin-Superior's mission statement claims it "fosters intellectual growth and career preparation within a liberal arts tradition that emphasizes individual attention, embodies respect for diverse cultures and multiple voices, and engages the community and region." The elimination of dozens of majors and minors in a non-transparent manner undermines this mission ("UWS suspends several programs," Nov. 1).
I treasure education. I am a first-generation college graduate. The claim that the decision was to "reduce confusion" for students who might get "overwhelmed" with too many offerings was condescending. My path through public K-12 education and then undergraduate and graduate school was filled with smart, effective, and empathetic teachers. They had administrative support to do their jobs well. They educated me. They advised me. I never felt overwhelmed by too many choices. The varieties of disciplines available were the means through which I reached my goals. I studied sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities. I learned who I am as a thinker, worker, creator, citizen, and more.
As an anthropologist, I work in Ecuador. That nation funnels students into careers based on exam scores and national political agendas. My college-aged friends complain they cannot pursue education on their own terms. They are denied learning in fields of study they find compelling.
As a public, liberal arts university, UWS must offer students the breadth and depth of human knowledge. Deciding that first-generation (or any) students cannot handle such knowledge shows a lack of respect for student intelligence and faculty advising.
This lack of respect reminds me of the value of a decision I made recently to move out of Wisconsin. A political environment hostile to higher education does not support respect for diverse cultures and multiple voices. It fails to deliver on the promise of engaging the community and region.