Our View: Don’t allow Truman to be high school 2.0

Think about the classes you took in high school. If your high school was like the standard American high school, your classes only surveyed a topic’s surface and had names like “Biology 1,” “U.S. History” or “English A.” Your curriculum probably did not feature specialized study opportunities like SOAN 452: Social Dimensions of Health and Illness or PSYC 430: Psychopharmacology: Drugs and Behavior, two actual classes offered at Truman State University next semester. While high schools provide foundational knowledge, colleges are supposed to provide a more specialized education, which translates to a greater wealth of intelligence and greater self-marketability upon graduation.

Next semester, however, Truman is offering fewer of those classes that make a collegiate education worthwhile and replacing them with more seats in general education classes intended for all students. Both the Communication and Sociology, Anthropology and Justice Systems departments are cutting elective course offerings in favor of opening more sections or increasing section sizes in their lowest level classes to counter low major enrollment and low faculty employment.

We, The Index Editorial Board, think this trend is unacceptable. Prioritizing general classes over electives means prioritizing revenue over the value of a Truman degree. The quality of our education, and by extension our post-graduation marketability, is ultimately dependent on those electives, especially as more high schools incorporate Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes into their curricula, making generalized college classes like COMM 170: Public Speaking needless and all but requiring opt- or test-out options. Truman and its graduates do need electives, however, to stay competitive after college, or at least to keep up with everyone else. That is non-negotiable.

This requires addressing what Janna Stoskopf, vice president for student affairs, called “bare bones staffing” in an October interview with The Index. We, The Index Editorial Board, recognize this is a complicated issue with no easy answer, and we are grateful it is not our job to provide one. That does not change the fact, however, that “bare bones staffing” is a phrase used to indicate a crisis, and said crisis only seems to be getting worse. At the Nov. 27 Undergraduate Council meeting, council members discussed how Truman would have to cut at least one faculty position if it were to hire any additional University support staff, such as the mental health professionals in high student demand.

Whatever happens, we, The Index Editorial Board, implore Truman to put its students first. We came here to get a postsecondary education, not a second secondary education.