Science or Humanities?
Should psychobiology fulfill SMC’s scientific understanding requirement?
By Joshua Suhaimi
Visiting opinion columnist
At Saint Mary's College of California, all students are required to take a "scientific understanding" core requirement course which is any course that is designated as "scientific", and includes a lab and lecture. All psychology students are required to take the psychobiology course, which includes a lab and a lecture, but the course does not fulfill the scientific understanding requirement. Instead, psychology students are expected to take a "real” science or "hard science" course which does not include psychology. Psychology is sometimes called a “soft science” because the study of behavior, the mind, personality, and cognition are intangible, and often associated with humanities and/or liberal arts. Courses that fulfill the scientific understanding requirement include biology, chemistry, physics, kinesiology, and biochemistry, but often require prerequisite introductory courses that do not fulfill the requirement. Classes like geology or astronomy can also fulfill the requirement, but have limited availability with only one class section usually being offered per semester, at best. More often than not, there is one section in Fall and none in Spring, and they are always filled quickly, leaving no room for other students.
Psychobiology arguably includes multiple disciplines of science, including but not limited to: psychology, biology (cellular, molecular, genetic, evolutionary, health/medical), chemistry, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and neurology. It is trivial and simply absurd to require a "hard science" course such as geology or astronomy because psychobiology doesn't count as "scientific understanding". Psychology alone is a science, as it is a part of the school of science, but with the inclusion of biology and other sciences it should undoubtedly qualify as a science course. The decision to not count psychobiology as a scientific understanding course was made a decade ago by the administration at Saint Mary's and is an outdated and flawed choice based on an outdated perspective. In this day and age, with the growing usefulness and popularity of the field of psychology this ideology is unsensible.
Many psychology students are forced to take courses unrelated to their major to be able to graduate which, to many of us psychology majors at Saint Mary’s, feels like a waste of a course, especially when there are only four classes students are able to take in a typical semester. Typically, the only options that do not require prerequisites are geology and astronomy, both of which are at less than ideal times for most students (8 AM), and both of which are often full and waitlisted for registration. As a student who will be graduating this semester, any changes to this system would not personally affect me, but I would not want anyone else to have to experience what I and so many others had to go through, both currently and in the past.
The decision on this matter is out of the reach of the psychology department faculty, however, many psychology professors agree that psychology, and by extension, psychobiology, is certainly a real science. After all, psychology at SMC is in the school of science! As it stands, many students have to take a course completely unrelated to their major in order to graduate, and the other science classes have less space for students who actually want to take those courses. The current system reinforces the idea that psychology isn't a "real science", which is detrimental to not only the hundreds of current psychology students at SMC, but also to all the future psychology students who decide to attend SMC, and the development and progress of society as a whole.
Does there really need to be that many award shows?
Image c/o: KEVORK DJANSEZIAN/GETTY IMAGES; ANDREW H. WALKER/GETTY IMAGES; MICHAEL SCHWARTZ/CBS
By Madison Sciba
Associate Editor/Opinion Columnist
We are currently in the peak of the awards season, a time of year where everybody who is anybody is flaunting their wealth at award show after award show. There are the Golden Globes, the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) awards, the BAFTAs (British Academy Film Awards), the Critics Choice awards, the Academy awards (Oscars), the list goes on and on. From January to April there is at least one award show every two weeks.
It seems as though the same actors and actresses get the same awards at almost every show, so much so that by the time we get to the Academy Awards almost no one is surprised by the winners. By the time the Oscars came around, the only big question this year was if Austin Butler or Brendan Fraser would win the award for Best Actor.
Look, I love seeing the outfits and watching those incredible moments when a deserving actor finally receives an Academy Award, but we don’t need more than the four most popular awards. The EGOTs. The Emmys, the highest award for television. The Grammys, the coveted award for musicians and songwriters. The highest award available to those in the film industry, the Oscars/Academy Awards. And the Tonys, the goal of every stage performer and writer.
Called by some the most coveted award in Hollywood, only 18 people have won all four awards in their lifetime. Notably Mel Brooks, Whoopi Goldberg, Audrey Hepburn, Andrew Lloyd Webber, John Legend, and most recently, Viola Davis.
With the Oscars now over with, it just proves that no one really cares about the other awards. It barely made the news when Ke Huy Quan and Brendan Fraser won SAG awards, but people were in tears online when they finally won their Oscars. No one is arguing that those men, as well as Michelle Yeoh, were making history with their incredible Oscar wins.
Quan became the second ever Asian-American to win the award for Best Supporting Actor, an incredible win considering his role in Everything Everywhere All at Once was his first acting job in over 20 years. He rose to fame in the 1984 film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom starring as Short Round alongside Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones. Quan then went on to play the iconic character of Data in the 1985 classic The Goonies. He struggled to find work, realizing that there was no demand for young male Asian actors, so Quan began work behind the scenes. It was only after he saw the 2018 rom-com Crazy Rich Asians, he was inspired to return to acting. Quan then landed the role of Waymond Wang in Everything Everywhere All at Once, so surprised that he landed the role, he turned to longtime friend and fellow Goonie, Jeff Cohen (now an entertainment lawyer) for help.
During his emotional Oscar’s acceptance speech, Quan told the world of his struggles, being a refugee who fled Vietnam as a child and had previously given up his dream of acting. He encouraged all who were watching to not give up on their dreams as he once did. At the end of the night Everything Everywhere All at Once was announced as the winner of Best Picture presented by Indiana Jones himself, Harrison Ford. Ford embraced Quan on stage, the Indiana Jones star congratulated Quan for the win, 39 years after Quan was a young boy starring alongside Ford in The Temple of Doom. The look of pride on Ford’s face mirrored the pure joy on Quan’s.
That was just one of the biggest and most influential moments of the Oscars, something that will be talked about for years to come. You just don’t hear about things like that happening at the Golden Globes or the BAFTAs. So what is the point of all these different award shows? Do we really care who won the Critics Choice Award? For most people the answer is no. No, we don’t need all these awards. Let's just stick with the EGOTs.
The dangers of censorship.
Image C/O Madison Sciba
By Madison Sciba
Associate Editor/Opinion Columnist
Penguin Random House, one of the largest publishing houses in the world, made waves after they announced that they will censor some of the most popular children’s novels by the late author, Roald Dahl. You have probably read at least one of Roald Dahl’s books or even seen one of the various movies or Broadway musical adaptations from one of his works. Dahl is known for books such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, James and the Giant Peach, and many more. Many of his novels have been staples in the childhoods of many.
The publisher of Dahl’s books, Penguin Random House, has decided that in an effort to be more “inclusive” they will be editing Dahl’s novels by changing the more “offensive or insensitive” wording. They will be replacing words such as “enormously fat” to “enormous” (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and phrases like “You can’t go round pulling the hair of every lady you meet, even if she is wearing gloves. Just you try it and see what happens” are being completely reworded to “Besides, there are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that” (The Witches).
Roald Dahl is just the latest victim in this censorship craze that is being disguised as being “inclusive.” Classic literature such as Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird have been censored and banned in several libraries and schools throughout the United States by people on both sides of the political spectrum. Books that are considered classics are being banned and censored for having “inappropriate” or “insensitive” content by today’s current standards.
While no book or piece of literature should be banned, these classic novels should not be banned purely because of their worth to education. Most of these books have been read by students every year in all levels of English and Literature classes. Yet now, they are suddenly not okay for students to read.
In my last year of high school (2019/2020), my senior AP Literature class was instructed to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which was originally published in 1885. My teacher however, was told that the school board of our district was making a list of books students were not allowed to read and Huck Finn was on the list. We were told that due to the use of an expletive in the novel, it was now forbidden to be taught in any school in the district.
Banning books based on things like explicit language and content that is not completely acceptable to today’s standards is ruining literature. No book is perfect. No author is perfect. Just because there are some inappropriate terms does not mean that the book is not worth reading. Just because an author is controversial does not mean that their work is not worth reading. Let people decide for themselves what they should and should not read. Why not use controversial books as opportunities to learn and improve us rather than shelter us from the past? Censorship is dangerous and something we need to speak out against. Don’t let companies like Penguin Random House ruin your favorite books. Don’t let groups like my high school district tell you which books you are not allowed to read. Make those decisions for yourself. Read what you want. Say no to censorship and say no to banning books.
Ryan Ford '23,