Visual communication students frustrated by lack of course options


Domonique Tolliver

Students listen to professor Dave Badie lecture in a videography class on Nov. 30, 2021. Visual communication students say they are frustrated by the lack of classes specialized for their concentration.

When Hannah Bauer, visual communication junior, opened LORA to schedule spring classes during registration week, she was already worried about getting into the classes she needed. Her anxiety level rose when she realized there were only a few select courses offered for visual communication students.

Bauer is one of many visual communication students who believe their concentration is being neglected. Other concentrations in mass communication, such as journalism, have three required courses tailored to the major while visual communication only has courses that most other mass communication majors are required to take as well.

“Most mass comm majors are required to take the classes that we take, so it’s not like there’s classes that broaden your knowledge on the specific major that we’re going for,” Bauer said.

Bauer also said that every other concentration in mass communication has its own course, like Journalism and Public Relations. But, there isn’t a Visual Communication course. However, to address this, Sheryl Haydel, Director of the School of Communication and Design, said the School of Communication and Design will be creating a new capstone course solely for visual communication majors in the spring, according to an email sent to visual communication students on December 7.

In order to meet the needs of juniors and seniors, this capstone course will teach visual communication students how to incorporate and apply skills such as Adobe and video editing to their fields of work.

Bauer said that the required Digital Communication and Layout and Design courses touch on the concentration slightly, but the classes weren’t geared towards them. Bauer explained that they are expected to take bits and pieces away from each course to try and understand how to apply it to their major.

Bauer is not alone. Visual communication junior Caleb Morlier said he is frustrated with the way the major seems overlooked.

“I’m a junior, about to graduate early, and I still have no idea what jobs are available to me and what I am going to do with my degree,” Morlier said.

Students like Morlier have expressed their concerns to their professors and advisors since their freshman years, and some said it seems like nothing has been done.

Bauer said she is constantly getting emails from the mass communication department about internships and workshops, but has yet to encounter specific opportunities for visual communication majors.

“If you knew it wasn’t going to be a successful major, then why add it?” Bauer said.

Visual communication junior Torrie Shuff said she looks for opportunities elsewhere, but sees a lack of internships advertised specifically for her major.

“You can only go to the same few people and complain so many times and get the same response before you just give up,” Shuff said.

Visual communication junior Torrie Shuff watches news packages in a videography class on Nov. 30, 2021. Visual communication students say they are frustrated by the lack of classes specialized for their concentration. (Domonique Tolliver)

Thirty-seven Loyola students declared visual communication at the start of this semester, the same number of students who declared this major in fall of 2019, according to Cathy Rogers, chair of strategic communication. Students said that faculty and staff claim that the lack of classes for the major are because it’s new, but Rogers said the major has been around for five or six years.

Rogers said that under interim director Lisa Collins, herself and many other communication department heads attended a series of meetings to “discuss and update the vis comm track to give vis comm graduates the best opportunities possible.” She also said that enrolled visual communication freshmen for the spring semester will have a new set of requirements that differ from the previous years.

To address student concerns, Haydel and Laura Jayne, director of student services, held a meeting Thursday, Dec. 2 with the visual communication majors. However, Haydel said that she is aware of the concerns and frustrations the students are having and plans to have another meeting addressing these issues sometime in the spring.

The Maroon was not allowed to attend this meeting.

In response to this meeting, Haydel plans on working with faculty members to develop more course offerings to visual communication majors. Prior to creating the new courses, existing visual communication majors will participate in a survey to express their needs and interests.

“We are committed to finding a path forward for our visual communication students,” Haydel said. “I’m grateful that the students made time to not only discuss their concerns, but to find tangible solutions.”