One Woman Academy

December 1, 2009

Higher Education as a Universal Right

      Canada is pretty excellent. The Land of the Maple Leaf has Arcade Fire, Kate Beaton, universal healthcare, the world’s largest mall, and many other treasures. But while reading through Inside Higher Ed yesterday, I ran across this gem:


“The student union of the University of British Columbia has filed a complaint with the United Nations, seeking to have it declare that tuition increases in Canada violate the country’s commitment to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The complaint states that Canada and British Columbia are not attempting to comply with the covenant, a United Nations treaty. Among its provisions is the following statement about higher education: “Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education.” While the complaint has attracted considerable press attention in Canada, Maclean’s reported that some students are upset about the effort and are pushing for its reconsideration. It is unlikely that American students could try to file a similar complaint: While President Carter signed the covenant, the U.S. Senate never ratified the treaty.”


      Really University of British Columbia Student Union? Really? Your reaction to tuition increase is to MAKE A COMPLAINT TO THE UNITED NATIONS? Not to see if you can cut down on costs or try to fundraise or open up a lemonade stand? Aren’t they kind of busy with, I don’t know, DARFUR? HUMAN TRAFFICKING? I will be the first person to say that higher education should be made “equally accessible to all,” but seriously, this is some student union-caused drama unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I’ve seen some petty stuff in my time as a college student, but this is taking the cake. We’re all coming out of a recession! What do you expect, you crazy Canucks?! Isn’t this a rash course of action? At least some student opinion is pushing for reconsideration of the measure, otherwise I’d probably call this whole business a crazy Internet rumor.


November 21, 2009

Entitlement: Part 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — onewomanacademy @ 4:46 pm
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     So in a previous post I wrote about how I felt many students at my university felt entitled to certain privileges, specifically the academic resource of printing. I was probably a little more harsh than necessary in my analysis, and received some understandable criticism for my opinion in this blog post by a student government colleague of mine. I still sensed a certain amount of entitlement among my peers, but I now think that it was more of a truly disappointed reaction to being uninformed entirely of the changes. I’ve actually heard several students make the comment that if they had received an apologetic email explaining the print quota adjustment and the administration’s rationale behind it, student opinion wouldn’t have been so utterly negative.


      As much as having a reduced print quota is troublesome, other schools are facing much harsher situations. The students of the University of California of Santa Cruz have been protesting against the 32% tuition increase approved by the University of California regent panel. Like  I said earlier, my college has reacted to budget cuts by drastically cutting down resources and services provided to students, by removing residential computer labs last semester to cutting down our print quota this semester. Student opinion of and trust in the administration fell drastically in all the conversations I had with students on campus. But I think every single one of my peers would choose a removal of computer labs and a reduced print quota over such a drastic tuition increase. USC students are facing very real financial threats to their ability to stay students at USC. The state school kids have a right to an affordable education provided by the state of California, which is probably why they didn’t go to other universities outside their state.


     While the system’s president Mark G. Yudof said that “three out of four students would be shielded from the effects of the tuition increase by additional financial aid,” I remain dubious to the realities of that situation. That’s a lot of financial aid for a large school system. If the system is raising tuition so much, what does that mean for the quality of the financial aid given? The other steps the university is taking into effect to cut down on their spending? 


     I’ll be curious to see how this event unfolds. Considering all the media coverage the protesters received, this story shouldn’t die too soon.



November 19, 2009

Online Lectures

      One of the great things about going to a private university is that I can develop close bonds with my professors. Many of my favorite professors have given me great advice about classes, internships, and some of the best advice I’ve ever received on life. A recent conversation I had with a close friend with professor involved the evolution of coyotes in Northeastern North America versus their Southwestern counterparts, our differing views on great presidents, the trend of student opinion, and when you know you’ve found the one. Along the way we spoke about my interest in working for government agencies and where I eventually see myself ending up, but I enjoy a friendship not as a readily available than at a large public university. Humanizing yourself to your professor isn’t just about making yourself more curve-friendly come grading period, but the friendships you make that can grow and last a lifetime.
      But even my most favorite professors get tied up in their own lives and I find myself resisting stupid Facebook application games (my roommates are obsessed with the phenomena known as “Farmville”). Boredom is a consistent predator hunting for the ever elusive “free time”. My eBay addiction is bad enough, let alone Twitter and Facebook. 
      But there is a shining a light! A hope beyond the tunnel of useless Facebook applications and humor sites employing the crudest of charms! The Chronicle for Higher Education reports that PBS and NPR are posting taped interviews and lectures on a site called Forum Network, similar to the pretty excellent YouTube EDU. From the sampling so far, I am most interested in Northeastern professor Nicholas Daniloff’s discussion on the difficulties of reporting in Russia, entitled “Of Spies and Spokesman: The Challenge of Russia”. Turn it in a book and we have the next Jason Bourne series. Except, you know, legitimate.
      As someone who regularly speaks to professors unencumbered by the typical social awkwardness that students develop towards their instructors, these free lectures are like candy. However, I seriously doubt that the average student is going to look at these lectures very much at all. If we want these free lecture services to succeed, professors should use them as study/lecture aides. One of my political science professors loves using videos in his lectures, to the great delight of the densely packed lecture hall. Students could cite them in papers, presentations, and discussion sections. If other professors are the only people looking at this veritable treasure trove, I say that’s a shame. Teachers have just as much to offer students as they do their peers, who in turn should promote the work of their colleagues to their pupils. Just a bit of student opinion there.
      Aren’t you tired of reading dull term papers citing at least 5 of the same textbooks?

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