Aside from neon tank tops, Apple products and construction paraphernalia, something else has taken up a seemingly boundless presence on campus. It is invisible yet nuanced in every printed flyer, every custom T-shirt, every clique-covered locale. It is, of course, the glaring, invisible force of majorcentrism.
In other words, I have noticed among colleagues a tendency to assume that one’s own field of study is the most essential to society. Furthermore, I have encountered a suggested competition between majors, wherein each claims to be the most intellectually stimulating.
Lunchtime conversation around the Avenue table may begin with cathartic venting on one’s weekly workload, but the chatter inevitably gains momentum as others offer up the weight on their own back to be judged by the non-caring, non-existent Cal Poly Pity Committee.
I have heard engineering students cite the incalculable number of calculus problems they have been burdened with, while architecture majors rebuttal with a testament to their nocturnal — or, rather, sleepless — nature due to wild amounts of hours spent in-studio.
At this point, I might interject with the perils of writer anxiety — if anybody is still willing to listen.
We all have our cut. Students have, more or less, been divided based on their natural affinities, and the respective tasks carry equal weight.
The amount of time a student spends on school work might not even be an accurate representation of his or her effort spent.
In fact, in the Mustang Daily newsroom, where deadlines rule the world, working within a small time frame can be as stressful as staying up all night to finish a project or memorize the parts of a plant.
Cal Poly is a tech-oriented school, and those majoring in engineering seem to think this allots them an extra few degrees of prestige. Members of the College of Math and Science will be the first to admit it’s not easy to live up to the level of precision expected by their professors. But abstract and artistic thinking calls for its own kind of critical brainpower. People in more creative majors have to pull material from — essentially — thin air.
Forgive me for generalizing. I know not all math majors are uncreative, illiterate nerds. However, I don’t think they deserve any more credit than a communication studies, liberal studies or music major.
Granted, math and science courses often deal in absolutes. No one is going to contemplate the holistic value of a math problem if the solution is incorrect. You’re either right or wrong, most of the time, whereas I have gotten credit for more than one non-conclusive paper by burying a half-baked thesis under pages of semantics.
One humbling experience for me occurred during a botany lab I had freshman year, in which we had to plant potatoes and other fast-growing plants. My plants were the only ones in the whole class that refused to grow at all. Aggies — I give credit where credit is due.
And so should you.
Techniques for success among majors are not congruent, and there are certain strategies applicable to each course.
Now, majorcentrism has evolved into a widespread attitude that some students have it better than others. On the contrary, students will become as involved as they want to be. The difference between a passing grade and a memorable portfolio piece is motivation. As students are perpetually compared to one another within areas of study, and areas of study continue to hold each other in high regard or low disdain, there are bound to be victims of this race for importance.
There is no accurate way to measure the importance of a societal role. With hope, we will all be working together one day — however specialized — as engines of the same machine.