Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Faculty votes to split RMS into 2 departments

Shelly Le contributed reporting.

The faculty voted Wednesday, Jan. 25 to split the Rhetoric and Media Studies Department into two new departments with three majors. Film and Media Studies will be a new interdisciplinary major with two dedicated faculty members, plus film courses in other departments. The new Rhetoric Studies Department will feature a rhetoric studies major and a political and legal rhetoric major. Both departments will also offer minors.

The change is made possible due to a new rhetoric tenure-line and by the return of a film media position that was suspended during the economic downturn.

“It somewhat has worked to have the two together, but it’s not been ideal,” said Professor of Forensics Jim Hanson. “Now students can really get the major they want.”

For instance, sophomore Alyssa Goard noted that some students had complained that courses about film and law were not very related to each other, even though she personally was interested in the fusion of rhetoric and media.

“I have heard students say who’ve gone through the major that they’ve been confused in how rhetoric is paired with some of the more film-specific classes,” she said.

With the split, senior RMS majors will not see any changes, while sophomore and junior majors will have the opportunity to select the film and media studies major, select one of the rhetoric studies majors or continue with the RMS major as it was. Hanson said that some students are waiting to find out the status of the majors before declaring.

Goard is one such person.

“I’m really not sure yet,” she said, regarding which of the majors she would choose. “I’m going to have to see what the requirements for each of departments are.  There’s a lot of students waiting to see what the department looks like.”

Hanson said that the new departments may help clarify a student’s interests or area of focus when they apply for jobs and graduate school.

“The thing I’ve heard over and over from students is, ‘I’m applying to film graduate school and my diploma says rhetoric; this is not good.'”

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