As every student at St. John’s knows, it is a core requirement that every freshman complete a semester of Discover New York, the interactive class where new students get acquainted with New York City by studying its history and geography, and embarking on class trips to famed local landmarks and hot spots.
While the idea of a formal introduction to the city where St. John’s students will make their home for the next four years is well intentioned, we feel that it is an unnecessary program for the University to place such significance on.
A large problem with DNY classes is that they are mandatory. Not only does a large portion of the student body already hail from the tri-state area, it is unjustifiable to force students who have lived here their entire lives to sit through a class about their hometown.
It is a common argument amongst DNY advocates that even if someone is native to New York, there is always more to be learned about the deep culture, people, and history of this great city. To this point we do not disagree, but to force upon New Yorkers a course aimed at helping them discover New York is borderline idiotic.
Moreover, regarding those students who do not originally hail from the Big Apple, we feel just as strongly that to mandate a class of DNY’s nature is unfair and unwarranted. Those students new to the city will undoubtedly discover New York in their own time and in their own ways; they do not need the University to forcefully guide them by the hand.
It is not imperative that these students are exposed to the curriculum of Discover New York because their academic, moral and social wellbeings as St. John’s students will not be altered in anyway. There are no positives to forcing this credit upon unwilling students. College should not reflect high school; students should be fully responsible for their own education.
In regards to the liberal arts education offered by St. John’s, we do not feel that Discover New York adds anything significant to its curriculum. While a St. John’s liberal arts education should entail certain core classes and a theological element to accent the school’s Vincentian mission, Discover New York need not be one of them due to it offering little towards the development of a well-rounded intellectual.
While making DNY courses mandatory of all St. John’s students is unproductive and unreasonable, we do believe that the course itself should not be eradicated all together. At its core, the DNY program is a positive experience, one that many freshmen students who are new to New York find helpful. It has the opportunity to involve students in this city in a way that can be very rewarding and resourceful.
However, these benefits of DNY would only be maximized if it were to become an optional program. As stated, there is no logical reason to make such a course central to a St. John’s education; rather it should exist as an option for interested students, no different than any other University general elective. Multiple elective classes are required for graduation, why not make DNY one of the options?
The University and DNY program heads should take this opinion seriously, for we have found it to be prevalent among the general student body. Discover New York doesn’t have to be a weekly bind, make it an optional course.