Sunday, September 6, 2009

Student Perception of

the Academic Crisis

I'm a professional student. Been in college for about five years, since I was eighteen really. Through it there have been fun times, boring times, good classes, bad classes, professors I hated, professors I loved, professors who I wanted to fuck, and professors who might've wanted to fuck me... But despite or in spite of the whole process of getting an education, I was committed to earning that outside recognition that basically means, "I know some shit."

Now, that's all changed. With the budgetary crisis here in California, being a college student is something of a liability, a financially dangerous occupation.

However, unlike many of my peers, I see some good in the bad. I see some change in education that, while detrimental in the present-tense, might be better in the future. Unlike my professors who tell us to "get angry!" I remain, for the moment, neutral.

On the one-hand, I really hate the difficulty of getting into my courses, the overcrowded class-rooms, books that cost as much as my gas for a month, rising tuition coupled with reduced financial aid, giving me less grants but more loans to increase my personal debt, an administration that doesn't know its own policies from one day to the next, the good teachers who are losing jobs, and the fact that education in our city/state/nation is becoming less of a priority than prisons, war, or corporate bailouts.

On the other-hand (besides different fingers) I like the favoring of senior students in enrollment. I like the higher-standards of admission requirements, and even forcibly-reduced admission. I like the petitions for previously non-required courses as usable for graduation. I like the streamlining of majors, minors, and other programs. I like furlough days. I like seeing professors who are great at their subjects, but untrained as teachers being laid-off.

I like "trimming the fat." YES I SAID IT!

I like having class less often. I like having more time to study, to read, to absorb the material I'm being "taught" on my own. I like that professors have to focus on what's really important about the particular course they're teaching - because most students are not taking those classes to learn about them, they're taking them because they're requirements for graduation!

Which leads me to my next point. Because of all the funding problems, the layoffs, the policy changes, and the inability for the university system to cope with the stress now being placed on it by both the state as well as the public, the California education system is on the brink of changing what constitutes a "general education."

In this chaos, I hope to see changes emerge that have been the bane of many students, myself included. I'm talking about no more fractious prerequisites, no more priority registration that doesn't fulfill enrollment needs, no more segment III "upper division general education", no more useless tests like the JEPET or Oasis. (The latter being a test of knowledge of the library system on campus, which is funny since the library was torn-down and they haven't finished building the new one yet! Kinda ironic that they spend money on a new library right before a budgetary crisis.)

I'm talking about a revamp of the entire California university system.

So while professors are telling me to "get angry" and protest these cuts, at the same time I can't help but notice their hidden agenda - which is to protect their jobs - and I understand, even as I stand on the sidelines. Maybe it's just apathetic curiosity. Maybe it's my dispassionate wonder. Maybe it's because I'm a senior student, already past most of the bullshit the university has asked of me, that I can be so blithe about everything. Maybe it's because I've been so abused by those selfsame educators, administrators, professors, and faculty all for the last five years of me PAYING for MY education, and only getting a sense of entitlement from them, as if suddenly I wasn't their client-student, and they my paid public employee; of being treated like students didn't matter in the great university-federal complex of education, that we're just lucky to be admitted; of being relegated to a position of subordination, of faceless masses moved like pawns for the power-games between teachers and administrators; of all these things which has aroused a passionate desire to see the status-quo changed by outside forces, thus giving students at least a chance to even the playing-field a bit for themselves and their always-expensive education.

In short, I am a voyeur, a participant-observer, waiting to see what happens.

Because by the time all of this is done, I'll have graduated from college. So what do I have to gain? Nothing except my douchebag professor from Craft of Fiction keeping the job he sucks at because he's great at writing, but a lousy teacher.

But think not that I am heartless. I feel bad for those people losing their jobs, for the lower priority on education compared to say, prisons, here in California. I feel bad for my fellow students who will have to ride out this storm much longer than I will. I sympathize and I pity, but I will not fight for their cause in this case, because I have enough trouble just fighting for mine.

0 footnotes: