My senior year of high school, I switched into a charter school. It was a good move, I enjoyed my new school a lot, I made new friends and I graduated on time. Why did I switch schools? I wanted to avoid gym class and the charter school required one fewer gym credit. I legitimately transferred schools so I could avoid physical activity. When I discovered St. Olaf has an SPM requirement, I began looking into transfer paperwork, but I recently found out that there may be hope for those of us that are not athletically inclined.
The administration at St. Olaf has been talking about lessening GE requirements by up to six courses. When I first got wind of this, I was thrilled. I am one hundred percent in favor of abolishing the SPM requirement. I would also gladly remove the religion and math requirements. Maybe science too, while we are at it. I am a Norwegian major. Religion, science, math and physical activity are not at all in my wheelhouse. I have spent many hours lamenting about student debt and a majority of them have been complaints about the fact that I am being required to pay for classes that I despise.
The Norwegian department probably would not exist if it were not for the foreign language GE, the FOL. Believe it or not, Norwegian degrees are not in high demand. Not many people want to put the time and effort into learning a language and without the FOL I doubt many of the language departments would be thriving. We are a small school and we need students to take classes across curriculums in order to justify having a wide range of academic programs. I do not want to take any courses on religion and I am not enjoying the religion course I am in right now. However, if taking religion is my trade-off for keeping the Norwegian department afloat, I guess I will take it.
I do not think any of us are excited about the number of GEs we have to fulfill. No matter how diverse your love of academia may be, there is always that one course that you are forced into against your will. As much as I want to ditch all of the courses I am dreading, changing the GE requirements will have a massive impact on St. Olaf and we need to carefully consider all of the benefits and the consequences of doing so.
Teague Peterson-McGuire ’23 is from Oconomowoc, Wis. His major is Norwegian.