Required Reading

The new diploma requirements for the arts outlined in the 2008-2009 Course of Study this week will bring flexibility that students currently lack in planning their courses, but the classes of ’11, ’10 and ’09 can’t help but feel like we are stuck in an old system. That’s because we are. While the new arts requirement will benefit entering students immediately, returning students must adhere to the old diploma requirements – which means that we may miss out on taking other electives or trying some of the fascinating interdisciplinary courses now being offered. Members of the class of 2012, on the other hand, are no longer bound to a full-year music or visual arts commitment, and will instead be able to take one term of either and pursue an elective in that field in the same year. Students entering as Juniors now need only complete a total of four terms of art, music, or theatre, with art and music required, and theatre optional. In contrast, current Uppers, Lowers and Juniors need to take a total of six terms, three spent in a yearlong art or music course in the Junior year, two in the discipline not taken Junior year and one in a half-credit theatre class. For the required art course, Art-225, each Junior will be able to choose whether he or she wants to study two-dimensional, three-dimensional or photo and video. Following the completion of that course, the student will be able to enter directly into architecture, painting, photo, drawing, sculpture and video, among others. To fulfill their music requirement, most new Juniors will complete a single term-contained course, after which students will be able to take any of the 300-level music courses (except Improvisation). Given this new flexibility in introductory courses and electives, students will be able to pursue only the studies in which they are most interested. Now that the half-credit theatre course is no longer required, students will be able to pursue other interests they may be more passionate about, while still receiving a well-rounded arts education. While completing Theatre 200 was a rite of passage for Lowers, along with PACE and P.E., we would encourage students interested in theatre to instead audition for Drama Labs, Theatre-520 productions and Senior IPs – or take advantage of classes such as playwriting – to receive experience in the performing arts. There is no doubt that these long-awaited changes bring new opportunities and openings to the schedules of incoming students. It is a shame, then, that current students cannot share these advantages. Rising Seniors who, for whatever reason, have not yet taken art or music, but may have completed a year of art history or four terms of Theatre-520 in addition to their Junior yearlong course, will still not be able to graduate unless they complete their two remaining terms next year. As these students thumb through the pages of the new Course of Study, with its updated look and updated offerings, these members of the class of 2009 feel the twinges of disappointment and resignation as they mark off the electives they will not be able take because of these requirements. These changes in the Course of Study are welcome and commendable. And, as the Dean of Studies Office has come so far in adding to the flexibility and freedom of students of the future, it should do its best to extend the same to returning students.