Tampa, Florida, Friday, Oct. 15 — Florida Governor Rick Scott’s war against the liberal arts claimed its first victory today as anthropologists at the University of South Florida began packing up their offices containing artifacts, skeletal remains, and items of material culture collected from cultures around the world.
The move comes in response to Governor Scott’s decree earlier in the week that Florida tax revenues would no longer be used to support degree programs that only offered intellectual stimulation, the capacity to develop skills of critical thinking and writing, and engagement with all of the other peoples who currently inhabit, or have inhabited, our planet.
“We’re spending a lot of money on education, and when you look at the results, it’s not great,” the governor told a luncheon crowd of the Northwest Business Association in Tallahassee. “Do you want to use your tax money to educate more people who can’t get jobs in anthropology? I don’t.”
As a result, anthropology departments across the state will be shutting their doors. At USF, the Department of Anthropology will be sending their students across the quad to the Faculty of Business, where they will change their major to Hotel and Restaurant Management, a prospect that has many students excited.
“Well, I was planning to do my anthropology honours thesis on the impact of wetlands management on rural communities in the Sun Belt,” said 3rd-year former anthropology student Kristen Myers. “But that’s not possible any more, so I’m going to complete my major in bartending. I do it part-time anyway.”
Governor Scott is not singling out anthropology for long, however. Other liberal arts disciplines in the University of South Florida’s College of Arts and Sciences are also on the chopping block, with Classics to shut next week, followed by Drama, French, and History.
The diabolically alphabetical academic house-cleaning plan took at least one observer by surprise, a faculty member in the Department of African-American Studies who asked not to be identified.
“We knew this was coming down the line for a few weeks,” said the professor. “I was desperately trying to figure out what to do with my National Endowment for the Humanities grant that I was intending to use to study the continuing effects of racism on the criminal justice system. We were all getting ready to pack up. Then the announcement came that Anthropology was getting the axe, then Classics. I guess we slipped under the radar.”
Not all “A” disciplines are worried, though. The Department of Accounting is facing a funding windfall, and has plans to expand their PhD program. “Remember, we’re producing critically-thinking, theoretically-engaged accountants, who are trying to relate accountancy to the deeper significance of the human condition,” remarked accounting professor Deborah Jones.
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