By Robyn Belt
There are facts, and then there are spot-on facts. Fact: Union College has a well-established athletic department that includes a Division I hockey team. Another fact: our science and engineering programs are world renowned for pre-professional studies. And yet another fact: Union, despite its prestige on the rink or in the lab, is a campus teeming with creativity.
Yes, there are more than a few students who can program their own software or solve a complex derivative without breaking a sweat. If anything, the intelligence of our logically gifted students is a testament to the caliber and innovation of our student body as a whole. After all, within every engineer is a true creative spirit. I propose that we reevaluate our perception of creativity and embrace the possibilities that a liberal arts education can provide.
We likely enrolled at Union with the understanding that we would be receiving a liberal arts education. What exactly does a “liberal arts education” imply? To be a scholar of the liberal arts suggests that a student has the ability to both learn and create. Therefore, Union, even in its golden age of technology, still emphasizes the importance of the humanities.
Campus programming, from theatrical performances to speakers, engages the student body and demand that we question and create on our own. Inside the classroom, professors approach students with a similar mentality. In my years of study here, I have yet to find a dull or passive professor. The energy and passion of the faculty contributes to the liberal arts experience. Regardless of the department of study, professors strive to make connections between curriculums. It is for this reason that Steinmetz Day is a collaborative display of visual arts and robotic research. It is also why funding is specifically allocated for on and off-campus performances. At Union, our Board of Trustees understands that exposure to the arts is as vital as its application.
Union’s curriculum and overall mission has been to provide a vast array of opportunities that can appeal to a broad variety of interests. Whether or not we choose to explore those opportunities is our own prerogative, yet the options still and will continue to exist. I feel privileged to be a part of a liberal arts education. My relationship to the campus and my education at large is greatly influenced by the endless activity and creative energy that is celebrated by faculty and students. Don’t take a moment of silence in recognition of the liberal arts. Rather, celebrate our unique positions by embracing what our campus offers.
We should not categorize our student body as engineers, pre-meds, and everyone else in between. Creativity is inherent in all that we study. With such a wide variety of capabilities and talents on campus, Union commits to fostering an appreciation for creation. College is, for most of us, a four year undertaking. A liberal arts education ensures interconnectivity and creativity in how we relate to the world for a lifetime.