Academic institutions should examine themselves

Mark Heinz

I’ve been through the undergraduate catalog from cover to cover.?The number and variety of classes offered is impressive; if you’re interested in everything from biology or business to chemistry or computer science, the university has a lot to offer.?

However, as a 49-year-old non-traditional student, recently returned to school after a 30-year hiatus, I find that what interests me most is neither formally studied nor formally taught at the university. I am rather, interested in the study of the university in itself.

I deem it unfair to compare and contrast academia with the quote, unquote real world, as if the former exists in some separate la-la land outside of reality.?Yet, as I begin my third semester on the Hill,?I must admit that?the university experience still strikes me as alien and bizarre.?

The ironies and hypocrisies are legion.?While professing inclusion and tolerance, academia?tends to exclude and reject nonacademics.?I’m not suggesting that they hire dummies as professors.?I am stating forthrightly?that academic achievement is not always tantamount with?talent and ability.

As a self-taught novelist, I’ve?noted numerous authors who were eminently successful without the benefit of higher education. Hermann Hesse, a high-school dropout, won the Nobel Prize for Literature.? Conversely, I’ve never read a really good book written by an English major.

Academia often profess that they want us to originate our own ideas.?But in truth and in practice they expect us to parrot their thoughts and ideas, just as they parroted others before them. Is this truly education, or a fine and hallowed tradition of mimicry?

I came here with well-formed thoughts and ideas on every subject of importance – religion, philosophy, business, politics, etc.?But of course I’m not paying a few grand a semester for the opportunity to propagate my vast knowledge and wisdom; I’m simply here to listen and to parrot the professors.

Universities in general seem to enjoy a revered, largely irreproachable status, not unlike religious institutions. But essayist John Leo has often criticized colleges and universities and their liberal politics and attitudes in several pieces for the U. S. News & World Report.

According to?Leo’s poll numbers, more than 90 percent of college professors nationwide are liberals.?He further asserts that these liberal educators shamelessly promote their liberal ideas by expecting students to parrot them in class discussions, theme papers, and so on, thereby subverting the?youth of America to their decadent liberal philosophies.

Oh, if that were so! But unfortunately, I don’t find this to be the case. Rather, I find a?majority of students which supports the military, which does not challenge authority, and which wants nothing more than to eat their fair share of dogs once they are disgorged into the dog-eat-dog world.?If this preponderance of academic liberalism is in fact attempting to imbue the student body with its decadent liberal philosophy, then it is failing miserably.

This is but one of many shortcomings which might be overcome by a new field of study devoted entirely to the university itself. Surely there are at least a few Ph.Ds?around who are burned out in their field, not going to make tenure anyway, and searching for something new to look at. Why not look at yourselves??


Mark Heinz is a sophomore English Literature major from Nolin Lake.

This commentary does not reflect the views of the Herald, Western or its administration.