Ill-Informed Reaction.

Jennifer Doyle’s essay, “Campus Sex, Campus Security”, begins with a recalling of the events of November 18, 2011. On that day, a peaceful protester at UC Davis was pepper sprayed by an officer, and the resulting photograph went viral. Doyle asks why were the police present in the first place? The answer comes from Kroll Securities report and the explanation of the situation by the university chancellor, Linda Katehi. Chancellor Katehi was worried about outside people coming onto the campus, mostly from Oakland,  and promoting a culture of sexual assault while on campus. Doyle calls the chancellor out on possibly creating a sense of irrational fear of an event or events that have not even happened, specifically sexual assault. Doyle states, “The fear that “anything” might “happen” is haunted by another worry: The possibility that the campus itself is always already “in violation” (“if anything happens to any student while we’re in violation”), that violation is in fact embedded into the campus, as a part of it’s structure. The administration worries about that which makes rape imaginable” (Doyle 16). Doyle finds issue with the administration’s constant fear, as well as fascination, with what may happen. She finds it to be an excuse for the wrong and misguided decisions of the university, specifically to send police to the peaceful protest. This sentiment is an extremely familiar one. This fall, the University of Delaware was shaken by scandal that involved an apparent noose being found on the campus grounds. It turned out not to be a noose, but the administration had already sent out an email condemning the action and promising swift justice to an imaginary enemy. The premature email was seen as ill-advised and imprudent of the administration, as no facts were even available at the time. While sexual assault and a symbol of past injustices are very different, both administrations quick responses to events share similarities. Why are college administrations so quick to jump on controversy when no facts are available? Would it be more prudent to employ a wait and see approach? It seems instilling a culture of fear of the unknown may be unproductive and hurt the overall attitude and atmosphere of a university.

 

Big Words:

 

Coercion(n)-the practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats.

Bureaucracy(n)-a system of government in which most of the important decisions are made by state officials rather than by elected representatives.

Embedded(v)-fix (an object) firmly and deeply in a surrounding mass.

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Overextended and Underprivileged

Ben Carson has been in the spotlight for the past few years, and has gained a lot of recognition and attention for his feats of neurosurgery, as well as during his 2016 campaign for the presidency. He hasn’t always been in the spotlight, however. He grew up in an extremely impoverished neighborhood in Detroit with a single mother on food stamps before making it to Yale University. Scott Carlson, the author of the article, “Low-Income Students at Elite Colleges Speak of Facing Pressures and Alienation,” would probably describe Mr.Carson one of the low income students he talks about. In the article, Carlson describes the high achieving, low income students who “are working three shifts, as researchers have put it: in college, at work, and at home, taking care of their families”(Carlson), that have rose from deplorable situations to face a new test at our nation’s top universities. This test includes fitting in with other students born with better opportunities, such as electricity. Harold Levy, executive director of the Cooke Foundation, which provides scholarships to impoverished students, states, “he was currently reviewing the scholarship application of a student who studies by candlelight, as her electricity was turned off after her mother suffered a stroke” (Carlson). These students face enormous pressure to succeed because their families are basically dependent on them as they work a job while trying to study at an elite college. The main focus of the article seems to be the symptom of alienation these young adults face. Is this really the most important factor to worry about when it comes to the students setbacks? Isn’t feeling isolation or alienation natural human nature after all?  The unfortunate fact is there are only hard answers when it comes to trying to help impoverished kids  to succeed. This discussion comes up within the article as top administrators, including government officials argue how to alleviate the problem. One government official stated that access and affordability were most important, but was questioned by an audience member, Ms. Hill of Vassar, who retorted, “To talk to us about cost containment, when the government isn’t doing anything about income inequality, is a little unfair” (Carlson). Does Ms. Hill’s point put her in the minority for not seeing a problem with the cost of higher education? Given all of the discussion about lowering costs, she seems to think that the education system is being singled out. Another question is how can our society create more success stories like Ben Carson? There may be a few answers but some institutions in our country may have to sacrifice a little for poor young students to achieve a lot.

Big Words:

socioeconomic (adj)-relating to or concerned with the interaction of social and economic factors

blithely (adj)-joyous, merry, or gay in disposition; glad; cheerful

anecdote (n)-a short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person