UCCs are more of a burden than necessary

Alex Sorondo/Asst. Opinion Editor

I am a senior and trudging, still, through the University Core Curriculum; digressing from grad school applications and their requisite writing samples to do my homework for Spanish I. In the evenings, I work on a critical essay examining motifs in the later works of Philip Roth, and then in the mornings, three days a week, I write single-paragraph essays explaining to Pedro why he can’t bring his dog into the biblioteca.

These are the consequences of my own procrastination, of course. If I’d only buckled down and sacrificed the will to live, I could’ve capped this thing off in two years. Que razonable.

But after three failed attempts to satisfy the UCC’s math requirement (the biggest obstacle for most English majors, and for which I all but washed my professors’ car to finally pass), I feel pretty justified in my resentment toward The Core. There were other classes I wanted to take, other things I wanted to study that might have helped me out as a writer, a journalist, a human being; and I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that if I can show aptitude, passion, and dedication for a particular field of study that I should be able to pursue that subject with all of my effort and energy and strengthen my skills and earn my degree in the name of Roth – amen.

Pero no. The UCC, and its surrounding network of bureaucratic confusion, is here to stay. Not because it’s pleasantly vindictive for the administration, or even necessarily because it might seem pretty lucrative to have a single teacher, and maybe one or two Teaching Assistants, hosting a class of 200 students who all need a $140 textbook.

The unpleasant fact, the painful justification for the tyrant’s rule, is that the UCC does teach us something pretty profound.

It teaches, as Bob Dylan would put it, that you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

Not that this is foreign practice to anybody of college age. High school is essentially a pulsating embodiment of servitude and drudgery. But you aren’t actually paying for your high school education; at least not directly.

It’s a rich learning experience when, at the age of nineteen, you have to hand over $600 for the “opportunity” to take Finite Math for the third time.

I would rather pay $1,000 to be flogged each morning for a semester. But you don’t get to pick your poison in college; it’s handed to you. The question is whether or not you can stomach it.

Because that’s all your undergraduate degree really says. It doesn’t mean that you’ve mastered the material in your field, it doesn’t even suggest a formidable intellect. Your bachelor’s degree is a testament, above all else, to your work ethic. Maybe it took you five years, maybe two: the point is, you got through it. Not only did you study and do the work and, ostensibly, learn some stuff along the way; you made the necessary sacrifices. You juggled jobs, skipped meals, dealt with advisors, pulled all-nighters, scrounged up the money for textbooks and tuition. You overcame the bureaucracy’s hurdles of how much money to pay this person in that office on either end of their four-hour lunch break.

Es muy difícil, it really is. And while it provides — or tries to provide — a rounded education, with a few credit-hours in almost every field, the real value of the UCC resides in its godforsaken misery. It’s the Church of the Battered Brain. Enlightenment through suffering.

“In the beginning,” it tells us, “you will do as told. You will work at what you hate; you’ll spend dozens, maybe hundreds of hours laboring over subjects that will not only yield no benefit in your career but will, in fact, be promptly forgotten after the final exam. You’ll buy the experience for more than it’s worth and, if you don’t earn a C, you’ll buy it again.”

I’m not trying to downplay the ulcer-inducing contempt and impotent rage it evokes on a regular basis. Believe me. I despise the Core with the passion of a thousand Spanish dances and I can’t think of a single benefit or a lasting lesson learned from any of its classes. They’ve brought nothing but frustration, anxiety, boredom and lament.

That being said, it has its perks.

1 Comment on "UCCs are more of a burden than necessary"

  1. I almost agree with this fully, I hate the UCC with all my heart, soul, and every working cell in my body. To the core of my FUCKING being.
    But, what do you mean by it has its perk? Or was that sarcasm that i happened to miss?

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