Forum

H&SS Pride Day reveals deeper problems for the college

Credit: Adelaide Cole/Art Editor Credit: Adelaide Cole/Art Editor

The recently held Dietrich Pride Day and similar previous events (such as those hosted by H&SS Connect) have already been used to try and unify the newly named Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ multidisciplinary students under one banner. This year, attendance at Dietrich Pride Day was lacking, and with good reason.

The event suffered from quickly depleted food supplies, a decrease in giveaways from previous years’ events, and a poorly fitted venue. It needed serious improvement on behalf of the students it aimed to represent — and a serious boost in dignity. Furthermore, these symptoms indicate that there are deeper issues lying beneath the surface.

H&SS has always been the “grab bag” college, where students can pursue any degree from statistics and English to information systems and cognitive science.
With this great range of diversity comes a lack of focus, and the college is put in the difficult position of trying to define itself in unifying terms. “Humanities” and “social sciences” have been stretched beyond recognition as labels for the college’s many majors.

In addition, H&SS faces the problem of being a liberal arts college in the midst of a university where liberal arts degrees are not taken as seriously.
Stereotypes about the college seem to have been around since time immemorial. That H&SS is a “last choice” college, and that many of its students are in it because they failed to get into the schools they originally wanted, are just two examples of these pervasive stereotypes. The shirts handed out at the event proclaiming that H&SS is “a great choice” merely encourage untrue characterizations.

Of course, these caricatures don’t hold true; in fact, students in H&SS complete an education that allows them to pull from the best parts of other colleges on campus while enjoying the benefits of a classically modeled core. H&SS is one of the largest colleges at Carnegie Mellon; the administration not only fails to pay attention to the college and capitalize on its strengths, but in doing so essentially snubs a large part of the university’s student population. Perhaps the food shortages and lack of giveaways were really from the lack of funding that H&SS receives from the university. With more funding and attention given to H&SS programs, the college can truly start to build an identity.

Rather than seeking to fix these underlying issues — no singular academic goal, no “anchor” by which to identify its students — the college’s administration has again and again chosen to apply only topical remedies, of which Dietrich Pride Day is one such case. If the organizers of these events — and of the college in general — worked together to create a singular, branded identity for the school, it would be something to rally behind.

Before students can be proud to be part of a unified H&SS, they need something to be proud of.