Soundings debate

It’s great for us


Castleton University’s award-winning Soundings program is one of the most important and useful parts of the graduation requirements. And yet, it’s one of the least liked aspects of the educational process among students.

Yes, it will eat up an afternoon some days when you go to an event, but the benefits of going to said event are plentiful.

The Soundings classes are intended to expand our horizons and make us better people. They do that in a multitude of ways. The syllabus outlines the exact goals, but the most important ones to remember are as follows:

• Become more aware of, and curious about, different perspectives;

• Develop an understanding of the arts, current scholarship, and local or global issues;

• Write well-constructed, reflective responses to a specific question about each event;

• Define and refine your own values through thoughtful reflection on the events.

Students go to college to grow as individuals, and you do that by experiencing new things. The goal is to get students experiencing everything from the arts to the sciences, so that every student has a perspective that’s different, or that knowledge they didn’t know, to help them in the long term.

Nobody has ever suffered from learning and experiencing too much.

It’s important to note that the university brings in a multitude of different events throughout the semester. There are fun shows like “Broadway’s Next Hit Musical,” science panels, movies like “Destruction of Memory,” and all of this on top of the shows the school puts on.

Soundings is also crucial to the arts shows on campus. School plays and choral productions, for instance, are all put on by the school and benefit from the Soundings program.

Without Soundings, the number of people at shows would go down drastically. The Soundings students fill out a lot of the crowd. Just this past November, the school put on ”As You Like It,” by William Shakespeare, and a majority of the Thursday night crowd was Soundings students. Almost every cast member was taken back by the crowd support that night. It helps them grow and become better performers.

Yes, a lot of students are busy and have their own responsibilities that take up a lot of time. That is understood by the people putting on the events. They schedule a ton of Soundings events throughout the semester for that sole purpose.

If you can’t spare yourself four, six, or even three afternoons throughout a semester, then you are one of only a handful members of the student body.

It is important to note the current Soundings system isn’t perfect. It could benefit from an addition of sporting events like the homecoming football game, or the pink the rink hockey games. After all, sports are a part of American culture just as much as any show you can put on at Casella. They could try to diversify the days of the week that events happen on. These are just two examples of changes that would benefit the system.

However, the system does need to stay. Soundings is a very important part of how we as students grow while at college, especially for a campus like Castleton with so little happening off campus. If you don’t let yourself see and feel new things, how can you expect to become the best version of yourself.

– Jac Culpo 


It must change


News flash: Just because you attend a university that labels itself as a “liberal arts college” does not mean it has to be pushed on students.

Unfortunately, at Castleton University, there is a mandatory program that does this.

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve taken 50 credits or if you’re currently in your first semester at the college, you will know where this is headed.


According to the university’s official website, Soundings is designed to “expand your horizons and make new connections.” Ironically, in its attempt, the university limits students in various areas in their life.

This is why the program, at the very least, needs to undergo changes, if not be eliminated completely.

Dylan Ellis, a sophomore at Castleton, played both football and basketball as a freshman. When he was in his first semester, he was also immediately enrolled in the Soundings program while juggling his fall and winter sports commitments.

“Anytime I have free I usually like to study, but it felt like I would always have a Soundings event to go to, which would take time away from my studying,” Ellis said. “And in the end, attending them gave me no academic advantage.”

Athletes not only have to keep up with classes but have to work around game and practice schedules and mandatory workouts. This leaves little time for attending the plays and concerts and other events that count toward the Soundings requirement.

It should be noted that freshmen typically come in with worse time management skills, therefore amplifying the struggles of having to participate in Soundings in your first semester.

Then you have the issue of the types of events that are considered to be a part of Soundings.

Plays and concerts and the arts aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Bill Yates is a senior computer information systems major at Castleton, and strongly thinks that the Soundings program is a “waste of my time.”

“I have zero interest in any of the events that Soundings promote,” Yates said. “Time is also my most valuable resource so there is no way I am going to spend my time going to these events when I already pay too much money to go here and focus on my interests.”

One of the main arguments in favor of Soundings is getting students in touch with the arts. Some students like Yates, however, just have differing interests. Should we punish business, technology and other non-liberal arts related majors by forcing Soundings upon them?

The answer is no.

Castleton also wants to promote community engagement with Soundings. And while going to a play or concert put on by your peers accomplishes this, so does attending a sporting event. Why are none of these a part of the Soundings program?

It may be impractical and unrealistic to make each and every game an event that counts toward the Soundings requirement, but you can handpick certain ones like homecomings and senior days. This would not only help students engage in the college community and earn their Soundings credit, but it would boost fan attendance and therefore positively affect the athlete experience.

Soundings does have benefits, but on the other hand, it is still flawed. Changes need to be made. Yates suggests making Soundings a requirement only for liberal arts majors. Simply adding different types of events could also work.

In the end, Castleton can’t let its title as a liberal arts college keep a program like Soundings as a requirement for everyone.

– Dylan Blowers

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