Diversity in the arts is one thing that Mines is severely lacking. According to Orgsync, there are only 8, out of 201, clubs that that seem to be based in the arts, whether creative writing, drawing, acting, or knitting. This is a significantly smaller proportion than at most other schools.
There is a misguided mindset with people in science and engineering that science and art are somehow exclusive, people must do one or the other. When talking to people on campus, there seems to be a real divide between people, some claim that they love the arts and science and could not choose between one or the other, while others adamantly insist that they are scientists so they are no good at the Arts.
“I didn’t come to Mines to do art. I came here to learn science. I don’t want to sit around painting,” said Levi, a junior.
This attitude seems to be a common one not just on campus but in the world as a whole. This can be an incredibly harmful mindset, as well, because Mines is producing engineers of the future and those engineers need to be able to creatively solve problems and create new techniques and inventions.
“Art is a solitary thing for me. I don’t want to join a club and sit in a room to paint with other people. I do it on my own at my own pace,” said Katy, another student. This argument hints that there could be more Mines students indulging their creative identities, they are simply doing it off campus.
John, a freshman, insisted that “to ignore the creativity that the arts let us express, it like ignoring your left foot. You are an idiot to try and ignore it because either way it will still be there. If you ignore it you might get gangrene or something else gross.” While a little intense of a metaphor, he does have some good points. There is this popular idea of left and right brains (which has no basis in scientific fact); the idea that we have both, even if we use one more than the other, still exists.
“We privilege technical knowledge and courses above all else, and our other passions and interests are often left to sit on a shelf collecting dust. In addition, our technical courses take so much time that any free time we have is usually spent trying to remember what it means to be human,” explained by Jessica Deters, a McBride student who is currently conducting a study on this very topic. “I think if the arts were perceived as not only equal but integral to engineering, students would feel more supported and encouraged in pursuing them.”
This support is clearly something that students desire, even if they are unwilling to speak up about it. Deters’ data found that every single one of the 137 students who responded listed a non-engineering passion, and 88 percent of those believe developing their passions will make them a better engineer; however, only 55% of students feel they have been able to develop their passions at Mines. If even students find that these non-scientific passions are essential to engineering and happiness, why do they fall to the wayside?
“We’re expected to be well-rounded in high school. I have never understood why that expectation disappears here,” Deters pointed out. This is an excellent point that maybe has not really been considered before. Everyone in high school pressures you to do things outside of school and have well rounded interests. Why when we start Mines is it acceptable, and even preferred, to have math, science, and engineering classes be all we do?
It is naive for people to ignore an entire part of them, but it seems that people do not really understand how broad a topic creativity and the arts is.
“There is still creativity in taking apart an engine and rebuilding it better, or designing a building that is both beautiful and can withstand an earthquake, or even a gorgeous mathematical formula to solve a problem. Humanity as a whole has more creativity than it may seem and Mines students simply need to learn to embrace their own,” said Brittany, a sophomore.
Perhaps by introducing more clubs and just generally encouraging people in the arts, whatever form it may take, will help to further promote and grow the diversity in the arts at Mines.