Editorial: Career fair exemplifies university’s favoritism toward STEM majors

Career Fair KIRK SMITH /THE REVIEW
Ziyu Wang speaks with an associate at the Agilent booth at the Career Fair at the Bob Carpenter Center on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2014.

In the wake of the Spring Career & Internship Fairs this past Thursday, our board couldn’t help but notice the disproportionate representation of STEM employers at this event. While, yes, the university is known for things like the Physical Therapy program and the Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) campus, there are many more majors than that on campus, and thousands of our students are being underrepresented in events, advising and opportunities.

Last week, in addition to the Career & Internship Fairs, the university held its usual slew of weekly events. About 80 departments were represented, yet this is out of the 300 departments listed and Athletics led with 112 events, the runner up was “Cooperative Extension Service” with 25 events. Yet departments with much larger audiences like Residence Life and Housing, the Office of Communications and Marketing and the English department only had one event each, with the vast majority of departments having zero.

After the Career & Internship Fairs and the Events Calendar comes the lack of advising resources. The entire English department only has one faculty advisor, while Applied Physiology has 15. Students are regularly referred out of Career Services if they’re not nursing or other STEM majors.

To the university’s credit, there are major-specific fairs throughout the year, like the Hospitality Business Management Career Fair on Feb. 25, but the fairs this year have included education, nursing, finance, physical therapy, engineering, biomedicine and fashion. For context, the university has more than 150 majors, 41 of which are humanities.

As an editorial staff comprised almost entirely of humanities majors, we’ve personally experienced this shunning throughout our collegiate careers from the university. We do not feel that students in our fields are priorities to the university, simply because donors are more likely to invest in the STAR Tower than Munroe Hall.

This lack of commitment is reflected through the aforementioned examples of employers at career fairs, events and advisors. But the future historians, journalists, anthropologists, artists, translators, lawyers and psychologists are just as important as engineers and nurses.

We understand that the university set out to make respected, highly-ranked STEM programs, but the administration has a responsibility to the thousands of students and their families contributing tens of thousands of dollars annually to ensure that they each are getting a world-class, quality education. But shoving multiple large departments together in cramped, decades-old buildings while Physical Therapy seems to get a new multimillion-dollar investment every year simply is not OK.

Our humanities majors have produced highly successful alumni like author Maureen Johnson, writer Neil Casey, actors Steve Harris and Page Kennedy, and five-time Tony Award winner choreographer Susan Stroman, among thousands of others. But the successful humanities alumni of tomorrow are being overlooked because of their perceived lesser economic value to the school today.

A department’s worth should not be contingent on how many donors it can bring in, but looking around, that is clearly the case.

The Review’s editorials are written to reflect the majority opinion of The Review’s staff. This week’s editorial was written by Victoria Calvin, Copy Desk Chief. She may be reached at VCalvin@udel.edu.

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