I have a modest idea. If Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the Texas Legislature are so eager to force ludicrous ideas such as campus carry down UT’s throat, perhaps it could also consider nudging the University on other measures.
Specifically, the legislature could compel this University and the other public universities in Texas to drop the onerous core curriculum requirements they unnecessarily impose upon students. Three hours in English literature for all students is possibly the most egregious example. The College of Liberal Arts presents plenty of other requirements for its students, namely 15 hours in science and a sequence of 12–24 hours in a foreign language. In addition to not making much sense, it unnecessarily augments the price of attendance.
I just finished registering for my eighth and final semester of college. As a government student, I’ve been told that I cannot take more than 39 hours in my major. The remaining 81 hours must come from subjects other than government. How does this help me get a degree in government? I know that the University will contend it is necessary for my development, but I’m hoping that the legislature will help them see the error of their ways.
Perhaps core curriculum and all these other requirements made sense 30 years ago when a college education cost only a fraction of what it does today. At that time, the idea of a well rounded education and abstract, lofty ideals about learning how to think were feasible. But today, with the average student loan amount topping $30,000, many students cannot afford such extraneousness.
Former Gov. Rick Perry was fond of pushing a $10,000 college degree. It was laughed at and mocked throughout Texas by the left and the right. Obviously, this isn’t realistic for engineering students or those in pre-med, as more than 100 hours of prerequisites are often required. But for many in Liberal Arts, maybe it isn’t that bad of an idea.
I suppose the legislature could also re-regulate tuition rates, as it historically did. State Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) was a particularly noisy proponent of this proposal last session. The state’s public university brass, led by Texas A&M University Chancellor John Sharp, pushed back hard.
It doesn’t work both ways. A college education in this state is just too expensive. I personally think cutting the unnecessary coursework is the easiest solution. Sadly, this University appears unwilling to admit the problem.
Supporters of campus carry, among their countless unintelligible diatribes, have made one great point. UT is a public institution and, as such, is responsible most directly to the voters and people of this state. Thus, since Texas elected leaders who backed campus carry, the policy was enacted. The same process must now occur with respect to affordability.
Horwitz is a government senior from Houston. You can follow him on Twitter @NmHorwitz.