Humanities: their former glory and fading future


Avi Joshi ‘26 is a prospective English and education major. He is a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and Wind Ensemble. Contact him at

Tom Mooney ‘24 is a linguistics major. He is a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and Catholic Campus Ministry. Contact him at

The views expressed in the article are the authors’ own

The new music building is an ugly piece of sh—t. Excuse our language, but it’s true. It’s boring, full of empty space and in a lot of ways, disadvantageous for the students that frequent the building — ourselves included. But that isn’t really what this article is going to be about. Instead, we are using the music building as an example of how administration at the College of William and Mary doesn’t actually care about the longstanding academic traditions that have made it a central part of American higher education for almost 400 years.

The way we see it, the College is attempting to fight a battle it cannot win. It is clear the College has been emphasizing a move towards growing STEM departments. Projects like ISC 4 and the School of Data Science are clear indicators that the College’s academic and financial visions greatly neglect the humanities. The College’s history has been steeped in the humanities since it was chartered. It is known as one of THE liberal arts schools in the country. We live in one of the most crucial locations in American colonial history. This school was founded to fuel the study of subjects like history, English and many others. Instead of embracing and capitalizing on the College’s foundations, the administration would rather enter the race towards becoming a STEM school. Let me use Virginia Tech as an example. VT is known as the university someone should go to for engineering, they love it over there. It was a school founded for that reason and they embrace it. Same goes for the University of Virginia for subjects like pre-med and other sciences. Their humanities departments are not as popular because they are schools with foundations and histories in STEM. These universities embrace the academic traditions they were founded upon. But instead of giving humanities departments the attention they need, the College would rather choose to neglect its very foundations. 

But why? We did just get a new music and arts building; that should be enough, right? Cue Extremely Loud Incorrect Buzzer. The new music building is honestly embarrassing. Yes, it may have seemed nice at first, but it didn’t take long for us to notice the mediocrity of the building. It looks like a prison from the outside and feels empty on the inside. Not to mention that for some reason, someone decided to include three auditoriums in the building. This would be fine if they weren’t all meant to almost feel like recital halls. Groups like Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra can barely fit on the stages, and the seating is surprisingly limited. 

As sad as it is to say, it seems to be the reality that STEM is where the money is. This is not inherently bad, as STEM has a place at the College. What is bad is continuously funneling money into new STEM resources while financially disregarding humanities departments. We have already seen the slow gutting of the foreign languages departments with the dismantling of the German major (I wouldn’t be surprised if more languages follow), but there has also been decreased funding across all humanities departments. Even the bigger humanities departments like English and history have seen decreased funding for research and staff cuts. And as students in humanities majors, it is absolutely disheartening to see what we care about being tossed to the side. 

It might seem like I hate STEM and think that those departments should not be funded. In fact, STEM absolutely has a place at the College. But neglecting certain disciplines traditionally embraced by the College and substituting a STEM-forward approach is not only a disservice to current students of those disciplines but also to faculty looking for research funding, as well as alumni. The school is essentially condensing the educational quality bell curve: the humanities get neglected and the STEM programs are half-baked, resulting in a sub-par and criminally oversold educational experience.


  1. Why’d you leave out that the German Studies major was discontinued because it didn’t meet state enrollment standards?


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