Be more career-oriented
As much as I love the liberal arts idea of being prepared for any field and any job, I don’t think it always actually works in practice. To be employable in a competitive job market, students need to have internships and experiences under their belts before they graduate. Parents want to send their kids to a school where they’ll be employable by the time they’re seniors. Sitting on creative writing panels at open houses and admitted students days the past few years, it’s the one question that students and parents always ask: What are you going to do after you graduate? And sometimes it seems like Knox professors want to keep sliding that question under the rug. That that’s not what’s important. And as much as I would like to live in a world where we can be employable just because we have an English major, that’s not the case. Knox needs to make way in actually preparing its graduates for different fields of work if it wants to remain a competitive school.
This school year has been notoriously difficult for our Student Senate for the many reasons that have been covered in previous editions of TKS. Between numerous resignations, including from positions on the executive board, a lack of action on important topics such as the Common Ground-IVCF issue, and continued struggles with implementing the bylaws in an orderly and efficient manner, Student Senate must change for next year. However, the general student body can no longer expect Senate to change itself in an effort to provide us with better service, as they have had plenty of time to do so. The only course of action the student body can take is to make sure we work harder to run a variety of dedicated candidates who will work on behalf of their constituents. This is not to say that every single senator currently involved in Senate is improperly executing the responsibilities of their elected office, just that many have shown that we can no longer simply elect someone at near-random based on a 100-word pre-written blurb, name recognition or straight indifference. If the executive board of next year’s Student Senate wants to work with devoted colleagues who truly care about the important powers they hold, they will change the election process to include more opportunities for open forums involving the candidates. Otherwise, we are sure to suffer through another year that promises to continue Senate’s slide off the radar of the majority of Knox’s students, including the ones who ran to be involved in the organization.
More special programs
Knox has a lot of pluses we can point to on paper. We have special immersion experiences, an active and involved student body and a tight-knit community. All of these have been challenged in the past year but at their base remain important reasons for students to choose Knox. So, we need to be sure that they are continued and expanded. We need programs like the immersion terms, 3B’s, and the new shorter-term study abroad experiences and other unique chances like an explicitly interdisciplinary business major, the new peace and justice minor and even the publications like Catch and TKS to make sure Knox continues to stand out. Sometimes we have to make cuts but making Knox more cookie-cutter or simply following what other small, Midwestern liberal arts schools are doing will not be the right move. We cannot let changes on paper overshadow the importance of actual changes in the classroom and the rest of campus, and ensuring we have unique opportunities for students to point to is key in this.
Knox advertises itself as a community that includes and supports all groups; however, many students who attend do not feel that this is the case. Accessibility and inclusivity need to be priorities for an institution that makes the promises that Knox does. While accessibility can pertain to a wide range of marginalized groups, my experience with physical disability at Knox led me to understand on a personal level how inaccessible the institution is for others who have similar disabilities. I’m fortunate to have had enough support by peers and certain faculty to have been able to advocate for myself and adapt to the lack of accessibility without too much trouble, but I worry for current and future students who do not. No student should have to jeopardize their health and well-being due to academic pressure. In my four years attending Knox, I have seen little effort to include students with physical disabilities in a way that is not, to an extent, othering. Knox should make a stronger effort to include disabled people in their community, whether that be through offering courses dealing with disability, bringing in disability activists or putting in effort to make campus as a whole more accessible.
As Knox pushes to become a more STEM — and Business — oriented school, I wonder whether we have put some needed changes in the humanities on the back burner. As much as I’ve enjoyed being an English Literature major, I have noticed that there are gaps in the curriculum that need to be addressed. For one, we have not had a global literature class offered during my time here. The only course that fits that description is a class titled “Postcolonial Literature,” which the Knox College website states is offered “occasionally.” That class has not been offered in years. It is a massive loss to students when classes that should be offered aren’t because personnel gaps aren’t filled in a timely manner. I know students who have dropped their English minor or major because they felt the curriculum lacked representation. Another issue is that the English lit department has very few professors of color. While I am aware of the challenges the English department faces when trying to hire more faculty of color, I am left to wonder why there is nothing being done in the meantime. I believe that Knox students deserve to have curriculums that introduce us to writers who come from a range of different backgrounds, even if the professor teaching that piece of literature isn’t of that same background. I have never seen a South Asian literature class given at Knox or even a South Asian writer on my syllabi. The events the English department’s Caxton Club hosts to attempt to fill in these gaps barely ever draw students of color to them. Nothing is done to encourage students from cultural clubs such as ABLE or AAINA to attend. Despite being of color, I’ve read more books by colonizers than I have by my own people.