Art courses deserve additional academic credit

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KAYLA PAYNE / THE FLAT HAT

The cinematic masterpiece, “Lemonade Mouth,” is about a ragtag group of friends who meet when they are each given detention. They are tasked with cleaning the new classroom of the music department, as it has been exiled to the dingy basement of their high school. Here at the College of William and Mary, our arts programs may not be confined to the basement, (although our newspaper office is), but the unfair treatment still holds true. Instead of being shunned to the basement, arts classes are worth less credit than conventional classes, even though they demand more class time. I might not be great at math, but even I can calculate the number of hours a course takes a week and notice that credits are lacking for students who work hard in the arts.

I am currently enrolled in Modern Dance I. The class meets for almost four hours a week, yet it is only worth two credits. Similarly, the COLL 100 class that I chose for this coming spring semester is an art class. In order to match all the other COLL 100 classes and be worth four credits, the class meets for almost six hours a week. How is it fair that each of my arts classes cheats me out of two credit hours that I rightfully deserve?

All of my other classes meet for almost three hours a week, and — you guessed it — they are all worth three credits. Most science, technology, engineering and mathematics classes have a lab that is also graded, so those students receive four credits for the 4 1/2 hours of graded class time. This balance may not be perfect either, but it is definitely much more balanced than the arts programs. I’m not even an art major, but I am still passionate about this issue. If I was majoring or minoring in one of the arts, I don’t know how I would ever graduate. In order to graduate on time, I would have to take at least six or seven classes a semester once I started taking classes focused in my field of study as an upperclassman. I have a cousin who graduated from the College of New Jersey with a Bachelor of Music with concentrations in education and the oboe. He has told me about how challenging it can be to create a schedule for a major in the arts, as most of his classes only count as one or two credits each. Also, the ensembles that he was a part of met for three hours a week, yet he only received half of a credit for them. Those who study other subjects often argue that this is a shame for those who major in the arts, but they believe that nothing can or should change. They believe that arts classes are ultimately easier and less serious, so they should not be held to the same level as classes in their own area of study.

And isn’t this what the system is implying? By allotting these classes less credits — by literally discrediting these classes — the system robs them of their value. The arts may utilize different elements and techniques of learning, but that does not mean they are lesser. Students should not be punished by being told that the subjects they are studying are less valuable than the subjects that others are studying. If one science class was granted less credit than another simply because the latter was a more respected field in science, there would be outrage at the College.

Email Alyssa Slovin at amslovin@email.wm.edu.