Ye Olde English Dept.
The English Department has been holding fast to one of the College's last vestiges of out-dated classicism, the requirement of a reading knowledge of Latin or Greek for honors candidates. The sandard defense of this requirement is historical, resting more on "it's always been done" than on the peculiar merits of the languages themselves.
Latin and Greek are worthwhile studies for English concentrators, but other fields are equally worthwhile. History, Government, and modern languages, for example, are certainly as vital to most present English honors candidates as the classics. Unfortunately, the English Department's honors system isn't based on modern times. It harks back to the days when Latin and Greek were about the only non-scientific fields in the academic world.
Scholars need Latin and Greek, and any English concentrator who plans to do intensive research in ancient periods will naturally learn these languages. But many students choose more modern times for study, and they will need sociology and economics--not Virgil and Homer. If they want honors, they are forced to spend valuable time on Latin or Greek whether they like it or not, unless their pre-college training has taken care of the requirement. But in the last decade or so, not only has the emphasis on the classics been relaxed in college preparation, but more freshmen are entering from high-schools where Greek is rarely offered and Latin is hardly an essential. Consequently, the English Department's Latin-Greek ruling is discouraging many prospective concentrators, who are turning to more up-to-date departments in the College simply to save a term or two of useless effort.