By The Editorial Board
For graduation, students in the College of Arts and Sciences are required to attend 12 Creative Arts Experience (CAE) events over their time at Baylor. A CAE is any event put on by the university that falls under the umbrella of art, film, music, theater and literature/world cultures. Students must attend two events in each category.
For example, students may choose to attend a theater production or a jazz band concert. When they arrive, they must scan a QR code at the entrance, and they must scan it again at the end of the performance to prove their attendance and receive credit. Then, they must do so 11 more times before they can graduate.
According to the university, the purpose of CAEs is to “involve students actively in the fine arts community on campus, preparing them for a deep and meaningful engagement with the fine arts throughout life.”
While there are benefits to engaging students with artistic experiences on campus, this requirement only applies to the College of Arts and Sciences. If the end goal of having students attend CAEs is to enrich them in the arts, then every student should have to attend CAEs.
Of course, the students who choose to study within this college may have a major related to art, but many do not. Neuroscience and mathematics majors are still expected to complete CAE credits, even though their areas of expertise have just as little to do with art as with business or computer science. If CAEs are going to apply to these students, they should apply to all students.
However, the expectation to attend 12 of these events is too large of a commitment for any student. Twelve is a large number, especially when you consider all of the other commitments that most students have. And it’s not like they can always do them on their own time; students have to be on the lookout for upcoming events that fit into the categories they need to fill, on top of managing the rest of their schedule.
Besides overloading students’ calendars, requiring this many events can actually do the opposite of what it is meant to. Band performance audiences are chock full of disengaged students who spend the show on their phones or doing homework because they are only staying to check off their requirement. They aren’t there to support the performers or enjoy the arts; they are there because they have to be.
Imagine how the performers feel when they look into the crowd after showcasing something they have been working tirelessly to perfect, only to see a group of students who couldn’t care less. In a perfect world, this wouldn’t be the case, and students who had to attend for credit would show up with a good attitude and an ear to listen. But after having to do this 12 times, if art isn’t their thing, can you blame them?
Creative arts are undoubtedly important, and attending these events is absolutely a good thing, but the current requirements threaten authentic engagement and present them as more of a chore than an opportunity.
The first and most important solution to this problem is to cut down on the number of required CAE credits. Even having students attend six events — one in each category — would be beneficial because they would be exposed to something new and perhaps be more engaged.
Another solution would be to frame the CAE requirement system to be more fair, either mandating it only for art-related majors or mandating it for all students, regardless of major or college.
With these solutions in place, more students would be able to reap the benefits of CAEs rather than dreading them, which would accomplish the goal of “preparing them for a deep and meaningful engagement with the fine arts throughout life” much more effectively.
For those who are looking to complete a portion of the CAE requirements, upcoming events include a showing of “Night of the Living Dead” on March 14 and the “Portrait Procedures” art gallery on March 15. Other opportunities can be found on the Baylor CAE website.