USC claims to prioritize the liberal arts. According to the USC website’s undergraduate admission page, the undergraduate curriculum “emphasizes critical thinking, verbal and written communication, and humankind’s history and diversity.”
True to this statement, the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences is the biggest school at USC, encompassing a vast number of majors and minors.
This diversity of programs would seem to lead to a vibrant, interdisciplinary community within Dornsife. Still, the school has room for improvement.
The great number of programs in Dornsife leads to a lack of unity within the school. As such, Dornsife’s chief concern should be to foster more community feeling.
While students in the professional schools receive specialized attention and perks, Dornsife students often feel lost.
One of the most obvious barriers to a sense of community is physical. Dornsife has no central building. Many classes are located in the VKC-Taper area, but other classes take students to the most distant parts of campus.
There’s no place that all Dornsife students can call their own.
Dornsife advising could also use bolstering. Though more involved advising in some of the other USC schools is because of their more structured curricula, Dornsife should still give more support to its students.
Another problematic element of Dornsife is the College Basic Requirement, which requires all Dornsife majors to complete at least 104 units within Dornsife unless a student is double-majoring in a professional school.
At 16 units a semester, a four-year student will have completed 128 units.
After the College Basic Requirement, there is little room for error.
Thus, this requirement keeps students from pursuing a truly interdisciplinary course of study.
Why does this arbitrary restriction exist?
If administrators are trying to restrict students to Dornsife to build a community, they should also help create an actual community to validate their own policy.
Dornsife also does not have its own career center or job fair, like many of the other USC schools.
Admittedly, it would be difficult to create one center for so many different areas of study, but leaving Dornsife students to depend on the general career center puts them at a disadvantage.
Dornsife’s problems are solvable.
More events should be planned for only Dornsife students, and the administration should find a way to interact more with students.
With Dornsife currently in search for a dean, candidates for the position should be sure to emphasize the sense of community that Dornsife students have been waiting for.
If USC wants to continue to highlight its liberal arts program, then it should do more to make its liberal arts students feel like they’re a part of a larger community.
Tim Clayton is a junior majoring in narrative studies. His column “HypocriSC” runs every other Tuesday.