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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


“Weed out” classes promote survival of the fittest

Stony Brook is known as a “science school,” and that brings with it obvious problems (CHELSEA KATZ / THE STATESMAN)

No matter how we boil it down, it is extremely obvious that Stony Brook University is primarily a science school. Despite the university’s most sincere efforts to promote other academic concentrations, which are also among the most prestigious programs in the nation, the path that an overwhelming portion of the student body chooses is a physical or biological science. Out of the five most popular majors at our University, there are four science majors that consist of thousands of people. The numbers are somewhat staggering. The number of science majors presents obvious problems: extreme competition and running the risk of making the school seem one dimensional. So how does the school handle this overcrowding? It makes introductory level classes that are geared to make young minds want to quit and choose another career or major altogether.

At first, you might say that purposely making a class harder than it needs to be just so that some people either flunk out or change their minds is unethical. You might say “wait, that’s not fair” or “they can’t do that,” and you know what, you would be 100 percent right. It is not fair. Survival of the fittest in a classroom setting sounds like something straight out of a social Darwinist horror movie. The sad part is, however, it is completely justified.

Let’s think about the overwhelming number of pre-med underclassmen at Stony Brook. It seems like at least one out of every two people you ask, whether they are majoring in health science or art, are on the pre-med track, but as the students get older, the numbers dwindle down. Why? Because of the so called “weed out classes.” As unethical and morally wrong that it may seem to make the sole purpose of a class to get people to want to give up, it is even more wrong to not create that separation between those who can carry on with the ridiculously grueling yet ultimately highly rewarding science program at Stony Brook, and those who cannot. Also, because it is extremely difficult to succeed in something you do not enjoy, the “weed out method” allows students who originally planned on becoming doctors, engineers or scientists out of high school to realize, “hey, this might not be for me. I should do something I can actually enjoy so that I can succeed.”

I know that sometimes we all think that life is not always completely fair. And to be very frank, it is not. We all are born differently in different homes, to different families, backgrounds and religions and thus we each have our own advantages and disadvantages. But, the journey we are on here in college, although it may seem treacherous and unforgiving, especially in the classroom, is one in which we will turn our weaknesses into strengths and our strengths into weapons.

So, is “weeding out” morally wrong? Yes, but it is also necessary given the nature of our school. For some, this competition brings out the best. Others get overwhelmed and need a little extra boost to get them over the stresses of competition. But, nonetheless, we are all in this together.

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