The Issue of Student Debt

  1. In Matthew Renda’s article, “The Betrayal of Student Activism?”, he discusses the incident involving the six students from the University of California Santa Cruz who protested the increase in tuition price by blocking traffic near the city. These six students were later arrested and sentenced to thirty days in jail. The university then proceeded to suspend the students without providing them a hearing. This created a huge outcry against the University for punishing the students so harshly for peaceful protests. It even angered some who heard about another student from UCSC that participated in a protest near Washington DC that was not punished at all. Do you believe that the university was justified to suspend them without a hearing? Why or why not? Also, do you think that inconveniencing innocent bystanders is a good tactic to getting one’s ideas across? Do you think that the students should have protested in a different method? If so, why or why not?
  2. The former president of the University of Delaware, Patrick T. Harker, wrote an article regarding the issue of increasing student debt and how to fix the problem. The debt is causing middle class citizens to struggle to pay for a quality education. He proposed many ideas, including that universities should be learner-centric instead of teacher-centric. He thinks that by doing this we would use our resources more efficiently and effectively. He also believes that courses should integrate technology more and more and slowly break away from the traditional classroom methods. He encourages more creativity in the classroom as well. Do you agree with Harker that learning should be centered around students, not teachers? Why or why not? How can this method be implemented into the classrooms? Would this idea be one that sounds great in theory, but impossible to integrate into the curriculum?


Big Words:

Bewildered – to perplex or confuse especially by a complexity, variety, or multitude of objects or considerations

Ambivalent – simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings (as attraction and repulsion) toward an object, person, or action

Paragon – a person or thing that is perfect or excellent in some way and should be considered a model or example to be copied


The Growing Divide Between Student and University


At a school known for having politically active and vibrant students, you would think that they would have freedom to express their opinions based solely on the history of the University.  But at the University of California, Santa Cruz, things are beginning to change.  The president of the university is clearly tired of bad publicity for the protesting.  In a recent case, six students were fed up with the tuition raise, student debt, and what Matthew Renda called, “generational divides.”  These students pulled together state-wide hikes for student debt and shut down major highways with barricades to protest their views on the tuition raise.  The University cracked down on these students, who now face 30 days in jail, by suspending each of them for a year and a half with no housing or healthcare.  Many people think the punishments are too harsh for the students, especially for a school known for activism in it’s history.  What is your opinion on the situation? Was the school too harsh, or was the extent of the students’ protest unnecessary?  Also, the tuition being protested is nearly half of the in-state tuition for the University of Delaware… why haven’t we seen protests on our own campus?  Do you think the protesters were right in causing other people to suffer for their protests by shutting down main roadways?


For being the president of the university at the time, Patrick Harker stressed his opinion blatantly and up front.  He wanted a certain group of people to take notice of the things he was concerned over.  Harker is resonating with most families looking to send their kids to college within the next few years.  He is upfront in saying that the tuition rate is ever rising and the need for change is now.  He believed in a radical change of method and teaching.  One that would be tailored more towards students’ needs rather than a professor teaching what they want in the way they want to teach it. He also said there is a need to look into reworking the mission of the University to give the student a more “learner-centric” environment rather than having a “teacher-centric” environment. Do you agree with President Harker’s views of a more “learner-centric” environment? Or do you agree with the professors designing their curriculum in their own way; through a “teacher-centric” environment?  I can imagine how controversial this article may have been when it was released… given that Harker is no longer the president, what do you think the University of Delaware’s board thought about this article?

BIG words:

thoroughfare: (n.) a passage or way through

draconian:(adj.) rigorous, harsh

pedagogy:(n.) place of instruction, a school or university



Taking a Stance

  1. Matthew Renda’s article for The Atlantic, in combination with “After the Fall” and the article by Angus Johnston, bought to light the importance protests play in helping young adults express their disapproval. Renda retells a story that took place at the University of California at Santa Cruz, a historically liberal school set in a historically conservative town, where undergraduate students had formed a blockade on a major highway in protest of tuition increases and financial crisis. The students’ intent was to draw attention, and that they did, as the students had “[shut] down traffic for three hours…spurring response from 85 uniformed personnel and a helicopter” (Renda). The protest sparked support from outside the community, along with emphasizing the power of inconvenience when seeking attention. Since the protest, the university has undergone question in regard to the unfair treatment of these protestors. How efficient is protesting in these situations? Do you believe the outcomes really does more good than harm?
  2. Patrick Harker’s article addresses a topic that seems extremely vital to our lives as of recent; the “ever-rising cost” of tuition at the University of Delaware. Harker explains that though the university’s fees are currently at their lowest, the costs still remain somewhat unbearable. The article examines the flaws in the school’s curriculum, asserting that the manner in which the students select their classes, utilize resources both in and outside the classroom, and conduct the work within their major are askew due to a system which is “teacher-centric” (Harker). From my own perspective, I have been begun to understand the drastic differences that not only schools, but state governments have taken in regard of financial aid in the last 30 years or so. My father, a first-generation American coming from very little money, received a free-ride to Manhattan College in the late 1970’s by simply taking state-conducted test (with no relation to the SATs). To my knowledge, the state has made many budget cuts, and the test are no longer as generous. With this is mind, do you believe universities fairly organize their financial processes? Do you believe you have been “ripped-off” by the university, in any sense of the word?
  3. In an article for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Angus Johnston reports on not only the importance of protests in advocating for better conditions in general, but to give voice specifically to marginalized groups at universities. Johnston discusses the roles college administrations have had over the years, in which the power of the students has dwindled over time. The author brings up a more recent issue within protests; the universities reaction. Johnston states that students “occupying campus buildings were subjected to mas arrest, serious disciplinary charges, and some physical violence”, not to mention the additional protests regarding Black Lives Matter, sexual violence on campus, feminist movements, and more. In my opinion, the author summarizes these colligate issues my very simply stating that “universities as institutions have failed to adapt to demographic changes in their student populations” (Johnston). Do you believe this is so? Have universities unsuccessfully taken into account the opinions and involvement of their students as both pupils and people?

Intolerable: That cannot be tolerated, borne, or put up with; unendurable, unbearable, insupportable, insufferable

Proposition: Something proposed for discussion or solution; a problem, a riddle; a parable

Provocations: The action of provoking or inciting; incitement, impulse; instigation; (also) an instance of this; an incentive, a stimulus