A student’s concern: cutting departments may lead to lack of the liberal arts

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At least some of McDaniel’s students have taken a religion class with either Professor of Religous Studies Greg Alles, Ph.D. or Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Brad Stoddard, Ph.D.

Before coming to McDaniel, I never thought I’d go anywhere near religious studies, until the spring of my freshman year. I needed to fulfill a McDaniel Plan requirement and Introduction to Religious Studies did just that. After having that class with Stoddard, my perception on religious studies changed and I wanted to further that.

These two professors are very passionate about what they teach and want to help every student succeed to the best of their ability.

The department itself offers some amazing classes like Religion and Violence or Sex, Drugs, and U.S. Religions. Classes like these are open for everyone, not just religious studies majors or minors, which gets me to the point of this piece –these classes might not be offered in the future.

The college is thinking of cutting the religious studies department.

If we were to get rid of small departments like Goucher College did, would we still be considered a liberal arts college? I personally don’t think we can call ourselves that if we get rid of the smaller departments. Having a department like religious studies helps introduce new ideas about religion and changes perceptions on it like it did for me.

It’s the core part of a liberal arts experience; being able to study different subjects opens up new horizons about the world. Religious studies opens students’ minds to different cultures and the impact they have on peoples’ lives. At McDaniel, you can learn about the relationship religion has with American law and our prison system, or you can learn about a variety of religions from Hinduism to Zoroastrianism.

These are classes that assist students in finding a path they want to study. It might not be majoring in religious studies, but it could be helping students go down a path leading to law school or graduate school to study a variety of subjects. Religious studies gives students the tool to ask the critical questions needed for in-depth research.

It would be devastating if President Casey and the Board of Trustees decide to get rid of any of the smaller departments on campus.

This holds true not only for students, but for the faculty as well. The faculty members of the small departments are very passionate about what they teach. If the school gets rid of these departments, they lose these passionate teachers. That’s something McDaniel has always prided itself on: having the best student-professor relationships. If the departments are cut, then these great relationships built between professors and students will dissolve.

The school cannot be called a liberal arts college if they cut departments like religious studies and those like it.