Friday, November 20, 2009

Someone call the Wah-mbulance. Spoiled rich kids mad that school costs are rising

Remember when college kids at least pretended to protest significant things like civil rights (good) and an end to the war in Vietnam (bad)? Now they are protesting because tuition is rising.

That's right. A bunch of angry kids--most of whom are no doubt there on scholarships or their parents' money anyway--are now tearing up the campuses of the University of California in both Los Angeles (UCLA) and Berkeley (UC Berkeley), aided by SEIU union thugs who are fighting to prevent some unnecessary janitors from being laid off.

Well I can understand part of the student's anger. Tuition is being raised 32% in one bite, and that is a lot of money. However I cannot be sympathetic to the university after perusing it's 2009/2010 list of offered classes. If they are as far in the red as they claim to be, why aren't they eliminating some of the stupid-ass courses that they offer which have absolutely no value to anyone trying to obtain a paying post-school job in the real world?

Just to highlight a few:

African Studies. What is this? All I know is that it has eleven tenured professors and it's own building on campus. Are we in Africa? Are we training students to go work in Africa? Whatever it is, it is apparently separate and apart from it's Afro-American Studies Department, which has sixteen professors. Are you telling me that the University can't afford to pare any of this stuff back?

Then there's the American Indian Studies Department, with eight more professors. Last I checked, you were born an indian; you didn't go to school to learn how to become one (unless you're Ward Churchill, of course.)

So that's thirty-five professors there, each of whom makes well over $100,000 per year. Are you telling me that the school can't cut even a few of these positions?

But there's more. There is a Latin American Studies program, A Chicano and Chicana Studies fact there appears to be a whole department set aside just to study pretty much any different culture or self-described interest group, including (of course) Women's Studies, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies, and one that really has me scratching my head: Ethnomusicology. Whatever the hell that is, it has more than fifty professors pulling down paychecks. Seriously--who gets a degree in "Ethnomusicology" and goes on to do anything except perhaps teach ethnomusicology at some other institute of useless learning?

If the University of California is really doing that badly financially, perhaps they should eliminate some (or all) of these fluff programs and focus on teaching students practical coursework like medicine, law, science, mathematics, computers, robotics, engineering, advanced writing, physics, and other things that will actually help them get real jobs with cutting-edge firms where they can make money and actually produce things that will make life better for everyone? That's what colleges used to be for, back before they decided to water down the curriculum with junk classes so that even stupid kids could get (basically worthless) degrees that wouldn't even qualify them to manage a McDonalds. And coincidentally, it's students of this sort today who are locking themselves in campus buildings and sitting in trees to protest. The students enrolled in the practical coursework are noticeably absent from their little unwashed mobs. Those students are too busy studying and getting ready to go out and succeed on the world.

Hopefully when they make their mark on America and have a comfortable life, they'll remember their former peers--the Ethnomusicologists or the Transexual Studies students--and when they see one bagging their groceries or just standing around with a "Will Work For Food" sign, they'll toss them a few coins just for that old school tie.


  1. Wah-mbulance!!
    Another great phrase I'm stealing!!
    If you think that's a hoot, I have friend who's ditzy brother has a degree in Florida Folk Tales... Yep, he's got a degree in story telling.. Reckon how many semester credits I'd get for all the bedtime stories I've told??

  2. Anonymous2:42 AM

    One thing you probably missed is that these six figure faculty members aren't likely coming anywhere near a poor undergraduate coming to the university for a bachelor's degree. They are teaching their one graduate seminar every semester and just maybe an upper division undergraduate class once every two years. Sure the six figure faculty are "researching" or something while they spend three hours in a classroom every week.

    Most of the teaching comes from graduate students who become even less employable than their bachelor degree holding brethren who spent 6-8 less years studying ethnomusicology (because 6 years is a short amount of time to spend on a humanities phd). Or it comes from adjuncts who wish they could be fry cooks and grocery baggers.

    In general the system is pretty broken, by the University of California system has its own place in hell for broken universities.

  3. Hallmark of a great liberal arts university: Commissioning Frederick Goudy [one of the greatest designers of the 20th Century] to design a typeface for your exclusive use (California for UC).

    The California university/college system should return to it's roots.

    I keep thinking "African Studies" is part of the curriculum at some place like the War College at Carlisle.

    Just shows how politically and culturally insensitive a bloke can be.