‘Sturdy buildings, good business’ not why Simpson is here

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by Sam Hohneke

Four years ago I walked out of Convocation having heard a very interesting and well delivered speech. The message the professor wanted us to walk away with was to become “liberal,” meaning we should spend the next four years opening ourselves to new experiences and perspectives.

This made a lot of sense, I had opted to spend the extra $15,000 or so in order to attend a liberal arts institution after all, and I found that the courses available to me were adequate for me to achieve this end.

I am now in my senior year and I am happy with the education that I have received thus far. A knowledgeable and dedicated faculty and the diversity of classes that I have taken have left me with a feeling that I have received a great education. However, I look to this year’s freshman class and the classes to come and wonder if they will be able to say the same thing.

By offering 4 credit classes, Simpson has reduced the number of classes that students need to take in order to graduate. Implementing the new curriculum has partially de-liberalized Simpson College. This system inhibits intellectual exploration and instead forces us as students to put on blinders and run as fast as we can through what should be our most formative years.

Not only that, the administration has decided to freeze hiring citing budgetary restrictions. I can’t walk a straight line across campus without running into some sort of construction. $1.3 million has been spent on the stadium as well.

I will take capable faculty over a new student center and stadium. Not to say today’s faculty are not capable, but the need to bring in new professors with fresh perspectives goes without saying when building a scholarly community.

I find the hiring freeze the most distressing change in Simpson’s direction. The curriculum is what it is and students will be able to adjust and find their way, although I still believe it to be a step back from what we had. The deliberate decision to build buildings instead of cultivating the community is a sign that Simpson College has lost its way.

As the sesquicentennial loomed last year, it seemed the administration became focused on ensuring that Simpson will be here for another 150 years. To this end they decided that the best path was to water down the curriculum and give the campus a face-lift, making Simpson College more accessible and attractive to a wider demographic. The desired result is increased enrollment thus alleviating “budgetary restrictions.” You have to spend money to make money right?

However, the business decisions of the administration should be made with the goal of ensuring the integrity of the education being offered at Simpson. Simpson College has a reputation as a respectable institution that offers a quality education. The college has not been here for 150 years because just because of sturdy buildings and good business sense.