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LETTER: President McRobbie leaves humanities, social sciences by the wayside



On Nov. 28, President Michael McRobbie finally addressed the proposed taxation of graduate student tuition waivers in a statement made to the University Faculty Council at IU-Purdue University Indianapolis. 

In doing so, however, McRobbie made clear his concern lies not with all graduate students at IU but only with those STEM students whose work is considered more profitable and more intrinsically valuable for society than the work of their peers in the humanities and the social sciences. 

In his statement, McRobbie highlighted evidence of the importance of graduate study. A statistic from the U.S. Department of Education said students in STEM fields make up roughly 60 percent of graduate students nationwide, but what about the other 40 percent, or about 58,000 graduate students, studying literature, sociology, history and other non-STEM disciplines? 

McRobbie’s statement leaves this other segment of the graduate-student population unaddressed and marginalized, but this is not the first indication of the IU administration’s lack of commitment to funding non-STEM research. 

The heavy budget cuts to the Black Film Center/Archive at the start of this fall semester, for example, sent a strong message about where the University’s priorities lie. In writing this letter, my intention is not to attack STEM, and I strongly believe important issues like global warming necessitate the continued production of quality STEM research. 

What I am holding out for is University recognition of the value — and not merely profitability — of research in the humanities and the social sciences. 

Adam B. Smith
Bloomington, Indiana

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