Should colleges and educators strive to satisfy their students rather than ensure they receive a good education?
That is what’s discussed about the proposed reforms to higher education, which put “student satisfaction” as the primary objective of educators.
The reform proposal, The Higher Education and Research Bill, would establish a new ranking system whereby universities would be awarded gold, silver, or bronze medals based on how satisfied students are, along with teacher excellence and student preparedness for “the real world.”
UK Universities Minister Jo Johnson is one out of a handful who actually supports the proposal. Others are already voicing their concerns.
“Universities are increasingly nervous about doing anything that will create overt dissatisfaction among students because they are being told student satisfaction is key,” Professor Baroness Wolf of King’s College London said. “It has had no real effect on the willingness of universities to stand up to student demands which in the past have been removing statues, safe spaces and no-platforming.”
The removal of statues? Safe spaces? Where have I heard these things before?
I don’t think it is too farfetched to say that America is experiencing everything that Professor Wolf fears, only on steroids. Whether it’s officially written down in the rulebook or not, student satisfaction is quite literally the end all be all at the majority of American campuses.
In November 2016, Hampshire College came under fire when school administrators caved to student demands and refused to fly the American flag. School spokesperson John Courtmanche said in a statement, “Our goal is to give voice to the range of viewpoints on campus across cultures, and hopefully find common ground. We’ve heard from members of our community that, for them and for many in our country, the flag is a powerful symbol of fear they’ve felt all their lives because they grew up as people of color, never feeling safe. For others, it’s a symbol of their highest aspirations for the country.”
In December, Cabot Phillips and Amber Athey of Campus Reform visited George Washington University to ask students about the “sanctuary campus” movement. In addition to saying that illegal aliens should be protected from the law on campus, several students also said they would like GWU to be a sanctuary from underage drinking laws, parking tickets, student loans, and final exams.
Shortly after Donald Trump got elected, students at Loyola University signed a petition urging their professors to give them the day off to cope with Trump’s victory. “Loyola students are exhausted and exasperated from this election, and no one wants to go to class,” read the petition, which collected nearly 300 signatures. “The only cure to an election hangover is drinking a cold beer in bed… all day.”
But wait! There’s more!
In October 2016, students at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles demanded that a statue of Christopher Columbus on campus be removed. The school’s newspaper, The Pepperdine Graphic, stated that a group of 26 students wore black and white ribbons and surrounded the statue, calling it a “celebration of genocide and racial oppression.”
Similarly, during that same month, students at the University of Missouri called for the removal of a statue of Thomas Jefferson. The petition read, “Thomas Jefferson’s statue sends a clear nonverbal message that his values and beliefs are supported by the University of Missouri. Jefferson’s statue perpetuates a racist-sexist atmosphere that continues to reside on campus.”
You see, the problem with guaranteeing student satisfaction is that it opens the floodgates for a barrage of liberal demands and needs, even if those demands are completely contradictory to our values and traditions. If flying the American flag offends even one student, the flag would have to be removed to “satisfy” him or her. If students sign a petition to have class canceled due to “stress over the presidential election,” school administrators would have to comply, once again in the name of student satisfaction.
Colleges and universities aren’t supposed to be in the business of satisfying students. Their job is to educate. Student happiness and satisfaction should be a secondary goal, not the main objective. Otherwise, it’s the students who have all the authority and the educators who are left with none.