Letter to the Editor: Liberal arts majors should not complain about E-Week

To the editor:

To quote an oft-used colloquial phrase, “haters gonna hate.” Engineers have been denounced as “oompa-loompas of science” on TV and are sometimes viewed as pretentious. I personally have nothing against the College of Arts and Sciences or the School of Management. In fact, my second major is management. I appreciate and enjoy being able to take classes in departments outside the realm of engineering. There is also no law stating that a liberal arts major can’t take an engineering course. Personally, I have never said that I am better than a liberal arts major simply because I’m an engineer. However, when I read that someone (who is obviously jealous, insecure about their major choice, or possibly both) was degrading my major, I became incensed. I’m not denying that there are some engineers who feel a sense of superiority over other majors, and as a result, flaunt it like there’s no tomorrow. Nevertheless, generalizing all engineers like this is simply uncouth. For the most part, engineers are trying to do what everyone else is doing: get through college so we can get a good job and pay our loans off.

It’s true, E-Week is incredibly competitive (not contentious) and engineers enjoy dreaming about winning the Golden Hammer. E-Week is also an outlet for engineers to express the right side of their brain. Poetry, painting, drawing and videography are all arts; they aren’t simply something we “associate with the liberal arts.” As such, these competitions are taken seriously; engineers are proud of their poems, drawings, banners and videos. We don’t scorn the engineers who enjoy these activities. We applaud them. However, I feel that E-Week also has an underlying theme, a theme that pervades all engineering majors: teamwork. A building designed by one person would almost certainly fall. A computer programmed by one person would probably crash. Teamwork is the failsafe that catches one person’s flaws and E-Week is a much more fun way of learning that than weekly group lab reports.

The ability to work in teams is a useful skill for anyone to have in their artillery. I think hosting a College of Arts and Sciences Week is a great idea. It might even be fun to call it “Sciences and Arts Week” so it can be abbreviated SAW 1, SAW 2, etc. However, when someone says that they “do not desire a pity party,” writing a column complaining about not having a week of their own proves that a pity party is exactly what they want. They feel left out and want attention. The same can be said when banners are posted pre-emptively offering acceptances of a thank-you. Math is fundamental, Olin-ites, but it was first used to construct structures properly (in other words, to engineer).

What bothers me the most, though, is how people want to compare apples to oranges. Majors such as education and engineering are almost polar opposites. I for one could never teach a classroom with 20 screaming, booger-filled children. An education major can’t design a highway. However, it doesn’t matter because the two have nothing in common in the first place. One isn’t better than the other; it is merely different. Both have aspects that make the respective major difficult at times, and easier at other times. A major should not have to feel like it needs to defend itself. If the liberal arts want their own week so badly, organize it, get it approved by the University and have a blast. Until then, leave E-Week alone.

Brian Shoener ’13

Civil Engineering and Management major

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