Governor of Kentucky Takes Aim at Majors Like 'Interpretive Dance'

(Photo from Flickr, by Gage Skidmore, CC by SA 2.0)

It’s hard to listen to some millennials belly ache about student loan debt. After all, those who tend to complain the loudest are people who racked up six-figure debt while majoring in things like Russian literature and lesbian fruitbat studies. Why should any of us feel bad for them when they made such stupid decisions about their education with no understanding that after college you need to get a job.


The lack of opportunity for those with certain majors is a problem that many people are discussing, but thus far few talking about it have the authority to do much to address the problem. However, as Campus Reform reports, at least one state governor is doing just that.

In a speech to the Conference on Postsecondary Education Trusteeship on Tuesday in Louisville, Kentucky, [Kentucky Governor Matt] Bevin suggested that the universities and colleges could “find entire parts of your campus…that don’t need to be there.”

He suggested eliminating programs because of the potential cuts the state could make and because they don’t produce graduates filling high-wage, high-demand jobs.

“Either physically as programs, degrees that you’re offering, buildings that…shouldn’t be there because you’re maintaining something that’s not an asset of any value, that’s not helping to produce that 21st century educated workforce,” he said.

“There’s not a lot of jobs right now in America looking for people with [interpretive dance] as a skill set,” Bevin pointed out, echoing his previous criticism of French literature majors.

“There’s a whole lot of kids sitting in their parents’ basements and competing with people for jobs that are minimum wage or a bit better who have four-year degrees, some of them graduate-level degrees,” the Governor said. “I challenge you to say to yourselves, ‘If we’re graduating 250 people out of our engineering school…why is it 250 and not 1,000? And what are we going to do between now and 2030 and a whole lot sooner to make sure it’s 1,000?’”


Bevin has a point.

I’m not saying that colleges shouldn’t have classes in subjects like interpretive dance or French literature, but offering them as majors borders on being irresponsible. The only people who have careers in fields like this are people who go on to teach.

Bevin’s argument that colleges should focus on “higher-paying career” majors makes a lot of sense. If a college can only accept 2,000 applicants, and a quarter of those are people who will never be able to pay back their student loans while working their hourly-wage job at Starbucks after graduation, they damn sure won’t be doing much for the state’s tax base. As state-funded institutions, there’s wisdom in focusing on majors that allow colleges to produce productive, well-paid members of society.

The fact that there will be fewer women’s studies degrees floating around would simply be a happy coincidence.


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