Dakota State University offers over forty-five majors that students can choose from. But how many of those majors are known outside – and even within – the college? Students majoring in programs that are not a part of the Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences feel unseen at DSU. These students, in programs like biology, English for new media, and business education, are a minority in most gatherings of DSU students – at club meetings, football games, and in the cafeteria. Professors at Dakota State University teach that a minority should never be ignored. So where is the voice of these students on campus?
One place where these students find their voice is in campus clubs. “I would love to see more recognition for the biology program, and that is one thing that TriBeta, the Biology club at DSU, is working to do,” says Christine Vogel, a senior majoring in biology. Unfortunately, the outlook is bleak for a lot of these clubs because they are so tiny. “Hopefully this program will continue to grow and develop, rather than die out,” Vogel notes. The first English club meeting in 2022 consisted of two students and a professor. Whether these clubs are not advertised enough on campus or there are just not enough interested students and staff to make them succeed, the clubs that should be a place of empowerment seem more like a symbol of the isolation of students with interests that fall outside of the DSU norm.
A 2022 graduate with a Computer Graphics degree says that she questions if her program will “even be around ten years down the road.” Whether or not these fears are founded, it is telling that students feel this pessimistic about majors which are not a part of the Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences. “I felt like our program was frequently overlooked by the college as a whole…the program is not promoted nearly as much as other more popular programs at the college and as result is slowly shrinking,” she explains.
Study spaces are a source of some dissatisfaction among students as well. The Beacom building, which opened in August of 2017, has a huge, quiet space on the ground floor for student use, with varied, comfortable seating, as well as multiple study areas on the second floor. The other buildings on campus are older, and thus do not offer the benefits of a luxuriant design. The C. Ruth Habeger Science center has a few tiny, two-person tables that are barely big enough to study at, and Beadle Hall, which holds most of the English and Art classes, has no dedicated study spaces at all. “So much money is being put into other areas of the college, and Beadle Hall needs upgrades in many areas including the outdated heating system and lack of outlets in several classrooms,” one student stated. Of course, the fact that these beautiful older buildings were not built to be as convenient for students is not anyone’s fault. But few creative efforts have been made to try to make these spaces more student-friendly, making those who spend the majority of their time in these buildings feel like a side note.
The DSU website states: “we have shifted our primary focus of education to the cyber world.” Students who are not a major part of that world feel the effects. DSU’s strength in technology is doing wonderful things for the college, and that is a good thing, not a problem. But as long as the college continues to offer classes in all disciplines, setting itself apart from technical schools as a place where a well-rounded education is sought rather than just a quick path to a career, the needs of all students need to be met. Even those in the minority.