Section: Editorial

Staff Editorial: College should prioritize computer science major

During Spring Break, the College announced the launch of an interdisciplinary environmental studies major. The major will expand on the environmental studies concentration, which attracts about 15 concentrators each year, according to a March 8 article on the Kenyon website. The creation of the environmental studies major is an important step toward modernizing the Kenyon curriculum, but the College must not stop there.

President Sean Decatur explained in a recent interview that the environmental studies major was a relatively easy addition to the Kenyon curriculum due to its interdisciplinary nature. This is clearly the case, as the College is not hiring any new faculty members related to the introduction of the major. Easy or not, the curricular addition is long overdue and gives opportunity to the many Kenyon students who are interested in pursuing environmental studies to any extent. The news signals that Kenyon takes this sphere of academia seriously — an important gesture, given President Donald Trump’s executive order on Tuesday that will dismantle many Obama-era policies intended to address climate change.

A potential computer science major is years down the road precisely because it is not an easy addition to our curriculum. Building this major necessitates new faculty hires and classes, Decatur told the Collegian. We commend the recognition that computer science should be a more integral part of Kenyon’s academic offerings, but the addition of this major must be fast-tracked.

The skills that belong to the field of computer science are quickly becoming requirements for more and more careers. Digital fluency and data literacy are not luxuries for our generation — digital skills and familiarity with different software programs are among the most marketable assets in today’s job market. If the College wants to reassure parents that Kenyon’s hefty sticker price will ultimately get their child a job, it will prioritize plans for launching a computer science major.

At the upcoming Board of Trustees meeting in late April, senior staff should ask trustees to support a fast-tracked addition of a computer science major. Kenyon’s peers in the Five Colleges of Ohio — the College of Wooster, Denison University, Oberlin College and Ohio Wesleyan University — all offer computer science majors. It is clear that a computer science major is necessary for Kenyon to adequately compete with its peer institutions.

It will inevitably take time to construct the foundation for a computer science major. In the meantime, the College should look into hosting short, extracurricular crash courses to teach students skills like Photoshop and Python. This kind of programming would be a beneficial addition to the Career Development Office, which often seems underutilized by the student body.

As valuable as it may be for the College to add shiny new white buildings to its campus, students ultimately enroll at Kenyon because of its academics. Adding a computer science major would broaden Kenyon’s appeal and better prepare students for post-grad life.

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