Crossing State Street

Today I feel that Purdue University is widely known for its three outstanding programs of engineering, professional flight and agriculture.

Sure, though agriculture is still included as one of those three, it is still somehow left on the backburner.

In 1862 the Morrill Act, also known as the Land Grant Act of 1862, was signed by then president Abraham Lincoln. This act allotted 17.4 million acres to be sold for the purpose of financing colleges in the United States that would primarily focus on the teaching of agriculture and mechanics.

Purdue University was one of those land grant colleges.

So if Purdue was established for the original intention of being a college with a focus in mechanical arts and agriculture, how is it that students give less credit to the College of Agriculture and its students today?

While there has been no study conducted on such attitude, I can say that such does in fact exist through my own experiences.

One of the contributing factors to this is an argument that has remained constant over the years. It is the imaginary rivalry between students over “who has the harder/more worthwhile major”, a rivalry more irritating than anything I know.

You will have engineering students accusing liberal arts students of knowing nothing about critical thinking while aviation students argue that their work is more than just a hobby and so on. The list of complaints and bickering between students differing in coursework goes on and on. However, at the end of the day, none can argue with a student in agriculture.

Why?

Because they simply have no idea what it is that we do.

The subtle disregard for the College of Agriculture and its students does not stem from actual disdain or question of credibility, but a lack of information passed and received.

For some reason or another, students (a portion at least) identify the College of Agriculture with the maintenance of farmland or livestock as major areas of study. A stereotype of rural agriculture being the background of agriculture students also follows. All of this is then also assumed to not require a rigorous curriculum because of its simple roots.

I myself am in the College of Agriculture. I do not come from a farming background. In addition, I have no desire to maintain farmland or produce vast amounts of livestock. In fact, in my major I have taken courses in science, economics, communications, history and the list goes on.

In addition to the stereotypes, there is often the assumption that if one is not directly affiliated with the College of Agriculture, then one would hardly find a need to “cross State Street.”

The term “crossing State Street” is meant in reference to the fact that a great majority of agriculture-based classes are taught in buildings south of State Street.

By students making such a statement they are not only are they lacking in knowledge about the buildings that are located south of State Street but also creating an image of isolation. It seems to be that the College of Agriculture is separate from the rest of Purdue.

To help resolve this issue there are little things that each student in the College of Agriculture may do to enlighten others on how agriculture brings one of the broadest areas of study in the university.

The first would be to stop ignoring the stereotypes and stop separating ourselves further from students in other studies. While it may seem that the easiest way to deal with such without having to go through lengthy, roundabout conversations is to ignore the separation and stereotypes, it does us no justice in the long run.

The second is what I consider as taking a “first impression” stance on the situation. If it seems that one lacks in interest or knowledge about my major or college, I take that as a chance to explain to them that it is one of the best things out there. I am passionate about what I study and what I hope to accomplish with my coursework, so why not share that with others?

Camille Quiñones is a senior at Purdue University where she majoring in Agricultural Communication and Naval Science.  

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