Should Anyone Be Lectured by College Students?

Let’s state the obvious: college students are surprisingly immature. They have not lived through real life, do not pay taxes, do not have a degree in any subject, and are not ready to demand that they be heard over all others. They need humility, patience, and tolerance.

Does any parent pay tuition for their child to tell the administration, the faculty, the college president, and other students what to think, who to listen to, who to fire, and what to do? Or to obstruct academic freedom? Is any college student that wise, experienced, or even aware of the complexities of the issues? The answer for virtually all students is a resounding no.

With that in mind, let’s end the nonsense which is now tolerated on most American campuses.

Colleges and universities ought to simply require students to sign an agreement stating that they can be expelled for bad behavior. “We retain the right and emphasize our right, which we have always had, to expel any student who misbehaves.” Sign the letter or you will not be accepted.

This is a simple step to help return reason, balance, and better behavior to all campuses.

The agreement would accomplish two main goals:

1. It would restore the rights of all students to learn, to discuss, and to passionately debate issues openly without another student shouting them down or claiming personal offense from hearing something with which he disagrees. The agreement would restrain students from making demands of the faculty and administration for which they have no standing. They are students, after all, not co-administrators. It would also return fairness to campuses and assure that no other student can take one’s freedom of speech away, or one’s right to learn.

2. The agreement would give a sturdy backbone to deans, provosts, presidents, and trustees, the discipline of many of whom has been missing since my own college days. These administrators must have the freedom and the courage to expel or otherwise reprimand students who violate institutional policy.

In short, schools ought to produce a simple letter of agreement to behave as a student, to learn on campus, and to not attempt to infringe anyone’s academic freedom.

Be a student. Otherwise, you earn a trip home.


Image: Scott Graham, Public Domain

Gardner A. Cadwalader

Gardner A. Cadwalader is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was an oarsman on UPenn's storied heavyweight rowing team. He has worked as an architect and a stockbroker.

12 thoughts on “Should Anyone Be Lectured by College Students?

  1. Let us state the obvious, indeed!
    These agreements already exist. Most schools call them ‘Codes of Conduct’.

    The problem is not the lack of a Behavioral Standard at our Universities…it is the Administration’s reluctance and flat-out refusal to use those standards to tell the tantruming students ‘STOP! SHUT-UP! SIT DOWN!’…let alone ‘YOU’RE OUTA HERE!’

    Of course to do and say such things to ‘paying customers’ when enrollments are already falling and dollars shrinking would be much like Gillette feeling compelled to call 90% of their own customers racists and rapists. Not a very cost-effective thing to do.

    It’s also worthwhile to note that the administration’s tolerance and even encouragement of the intolerable (see Oberlin and their Gibson’s Bakery $25M fiasco) serves a purpose. It underlines their Wokeness; it helps rid the school of Conservative Deplorables (faculty and students alike); it feeds the ‘holier than thou’ attitude which already inflates way-too-many academic egos. And, last but far from least, kinda like scared suburbanites putting ‘BLM’ signs in their front yard, they hope their benign acceptance and enablement of Leftist pitch-fork idiocy will protect them from being the objects of similar Mob Outrage.

    Fat chance.

    As we all know, if you give a moose a muffin…

  2. You admonish Patti rather harshly, Dr. Ed, as neither she nor many of us (thankfully) need endure the daily indignities of dealing with woke, self-serving, and spineless university administrators (we have corporate versions instead). As she points out, we fortunate outcasts live in a world where, at least until 2020 or thereabouts, we assumed that a proprietor or manager –even of a university– had the responsibility and authority to maintain sufficient decorum in his/her establishment to conduct business. However, intervention only on behalf of the university ransackers does, as you cite, appear to be the administrators’ SOP. But, then, why not if your cause is undoubtedly virtuous and correct? Let the heretics burn!

    Your point, however, about the “Faustian choice” is less an administrative dilemma than a function of what academia generally likes to paint “capitalists” as: “greedy”, with the added punch that the government stands ready to finance nearly all who apply in order to imbibe higher (“hire”?) education’s ever-more-expensive nostrums, and support yet another layer of university administration. “Non-profit” is a tax and accounting term, little more.

    There may be some glimmers of hope that the ivory tower may yet be treated to a more jaundiced eye by the current judiciary, as noted in today’s Wall Street Journal…
    Judge Jose Cabranes of the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals writing in Vengalattore v. Cornell, June 2, re a Title IX case, wherein the good judge excoriates the “brutish overreach of university administrators at the expense of due process and simple fairness”. Would that the “brutishness” at least be even-handedly administered.

    One chip at a time.

  3. When the advocated policy has a “disparate impact” on “historically marginalized” groups, those administrators who apply the policy equally will, at best, be sentenced to diversity training and at worst be forced to resign. Anyone who doubts this should consider the predictable negative consequences of President Obama’s policies regarding school discipline. (But when you send YOUR kids to an expensive private school you don’t have to worry about your children being assaulted.)
    How much has the cancer of political correctness metastasized? We have a college president apologize for stating “all lives matter.” Low lives such as unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers are welcome on college campuses and Condoleezza Rice is not.

  4. This nonsense all started back in the 1990s. I can remember walking into an academic department office at the University of Notre Dame to see a poster that said (and I’m paraphrasing) “The students are our customers. We are here for them. They deserve our respect.”

    Funny. I was always taught respect was something earned. You didn’t get it just because you exist.

    This has morphed today into students calling the shots. Have a problem with a professor? No problem. Don’t go to her. Don’t even bother going to the department chair. Go straight to the dean—and the dean will be more than willing to listen.

    College students today are largely immature, vain and falsely believe they are wise. In reality, this cohort of students is probably the most ignorant, narcissistic and ill-informed in the history of higher education. Why anyone is willing to listen to—let alone cede power to—such a group is beyond me.

    If the college administration would simply stop the coddling, it would go a long way to stopping this nonsense.

    1. Patti, you are the customer of your OB/GYN and as such deserve respect. Likewise your attorney, accountant, etc.

      Students are customers, and your attitude is a legacy of an earlier era when education was provided for free and hence IHEs had a right to other expectations.

      There was also the Faustian choice of enrollment management – having the revenue from more students at the price of having to have more students.

      They could have instead laid off faculty members in the 1990s…

  5. This one of the most asinine thing I have seen in a long time, written by someone who clearly does not understand higher ed. Everything he proposes already exists and is routinely used against conservative students!

    While it’s not clear if he truly supports the right of students to “passionately debate”, he fails to understand that his proposal will justify further eliminating this.

    Furthermore, students are both customers & citizens. At a public university, they have an absolute right to “petition for redress of grievances.” The problem is that only some students enjoy this right.

    And as to refusing to sign and not going, that’s already happening…

    1. Customers don’t get to dictate policy. They can take their money and business elsewhere if they don’t like something. But they don’t get to dictate how the company runs its business.

      Apparently you haven’t been around on any campuses lately. What is going on is not a “petition for redress of grievances”. We have actual disruption of academic events by student mobs and a university administration that looks the other way. When you yell and scream (or jump up and down on tables like what happened at my university recently), this isn’t petitioning anything. It is at the least bad behavior and possibly criminal behavior. There must be policies in place that make expelling activist, disruptive students quickly and easily. Conversative students would not be affected by such procedures because they don’t form violently disruptive mobs.

      1. No Patti, the admin SUPPORTS such antics.

        Ever notice how there aren’t counterprotests? There is a reason for that.

        Go to fire.org and read the stuff there. I won’t even get into the BIT teams and their star chamber tactics.

        Or the number of times I had to go into harm’s way to defend a conservative student who had done nothing wrong.

        As to a private company free to run its own business, don’t do it with public funds. Only Hillsdale & Grove City Colleges meet this criteria and they aren’t the problem.

      2. I do not know of a college or university today that does not have procedures for expelling disruptive students. They are just not used.

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