Here is the deal: I’m not about to mince words or hide any kind of agenda. I’m putting all my cards on the table, so that my bias and personal agenda are clear. When I’m not editing the Arts & Culture section of this newspaper, I’m an English major in the Honours graduate program.
After I graduate from the University of Regina at the end of next semester, I’ll begin to start planning out the next phase of my life. Somewhere in the next five years I would like to enter into post-graduate studies here at the U of R. A Masters degree is something that I’d like to get without leaving Regina or the U of R campus – and every English major who isn’t enrolled in the Honours program is ruining that possibility for me and others like me.
Last weekend I was talking about my post-graduate plans with a member of the department who divulged to me that there might be less than three Honours/Grad courses offered in the English Department next semester. Now, I’m nearing the end of my degree. As far as I know, I have to enroll in one more Honours class to fulfill my requirements to graduate – which doesn’t include the writing of my honours thesis. That is something I have chosen to do.
My point is that the increasingly limited amount of Honours courses made available this year doesn’t really affect me, but it does affect everyone who is currently undertaking post-graduate studies at the U of R. If the already low enrollment rate in Honours courses continues into the future, it will most certainly affect me if I decide to return to the U of R in a few years to achieve my Masters degree.
I know that there are arts majors out there who aren’t in the Honours program, and I want to ask you a simple question: why not? Does the thought of having your ideas challenged by your intellectual peers threaten you? Are you afraid that you won’t be able to handle the workload? I can tell you that the first Honours course I took was with the most intimidating professor in the English department. I dove into the deep end headfirst without knowing how to swim. Did I drown? No. I coughed up a little water, to be sure, but I stuck with it and once I gained my sea legs I was left feeling like I was better for having been challenged by academia rather than coddled by it.
If you’re an Arts student, I can tell you firsthand that the Honours programs offered by the university are there for you to take advantage of, and are not to be avoided out of academic cowardice.