Humanities students were outraged Monday when the Assistant Secretary to the Dean of Studies announced that a variety of courses, including Economics 102: Introduction to Economics, would no longer be eligible for the Non-Recorded Option (NRO). The move came after a record five-year period in which not one humanities major took the class for credit, instead opting to NRO it to fulfill their quantitative requirement while preserving their GPA.
While the Dean of Studies did not respond to repeated requests for comment, a wide variety of humanities majors proved extremely willing to express their views on the subject.
“This is what I mean when I talk about the decline of the humanities,” Gavin Seersucker ’25, a dual history and drama major, said. “I was planning to take the class next semester and just sort of skate through, but now I’ll actually have to take even a single quantitative course for a letter grade? I’m allergic to numbers! They give me hives!”
Other students complained that the move impeded their plans of study at Vassar.
“This news completely shifted my modalities, and I couldn’t be angrier,” said Shreya Sharma ’25, a political science major. “I wanted to spend my entire undergraduate career in an intensive exploration of Foucault’s foundational work on social hypercyclical dynamics in a public interlocutative environment, with a special concentration on subtracular systems in the embodied postcolonial, post imperial imaginary. But now, not only will I have to divest myself from that just to learn about how people spend money, but I’ll also have to take the course for credit? Vassar disgusts me.”
ECON 102 is not the only course affected by the change. Many popular quantitative requirement courses, such as Astronomy 105, have been designated under a new category, the Non-Recorded Option Non-Option (or NRO-NO). From this point on, students trying to fulfill the quantitative requirement will have to take these courses for full credit or else not take them at all.
Faculty in the affected departments had a noticeably different reaction to the new policy.
“Frankly, this was a long time coming,” remarked Professor Martin Pennypinch ’61, an assistant lecturer in the Economics department. “I have to teach two sections of 102 each and every semester. Do you have any idea how draining it is when over half of the class doesn’t care at all what they get, as long as it’s a passing grade? I pour my heart and soul into these lectures! I show them the beauty of these numbers and these gorgeous, gorgeous graphs, and they’re just in the back the whole time passing notes about dialectical proto-fascism or something! I can’t take it anymore! I can’t, do you hear me?”
A student who happened to be passing by Professor Pennypinch’s office burst in to provide a comment in response.
“Oh, HE can’t take it? How do you think I feel?” asked Grace Yang ’24, an English major with a correlate in Studio Arts. “Luckily, I was already able to take ECON 102 with Professor Pennypinch, and it’s a darn good thing I don’t have to tell you what my final grade was, too, but think of the injustice for incoming first-years. You can still NRO the writing seminar, which means that not only will all these STEM majors make twice my salary, but they’ll also get to skate by without a letter grade in their only humanities course? That’s [expletive]!”
The move is widely seen as aiming to further increase the academic rigor of Vassar College, possibly in response to a perceived slide in standards during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The fact is, the more a school costs, the more value parents want to see out of the educational experience there,” explained one member of the Board of Directors, who asked not to be named. “And we charge out the wazoo, so, you know, we kind of have to deliver. Maybe if these students need to spend more time studying for their economics tests, they’ll spend less time chain-smoking, getting regrettable tattoos and guzzling vodka Dr. Peppers at the THs—and honestly, that’s a win-win.”
The Associate Vice Dean of Studies, who announced the policy, was not available for comment. This was presumably due to the fact that his house is currently surrounded by a huge crowd of peaceful protestors, who were busily setting fire to his trash cans and lawn ornaments at time of publication.