A few weeks ago I wrote about the lack of student activism and participation around campus. UNH students, and many other college campuses, are pretty passive nowadays when it comes to holding rallies and protests. Obviously this was not always the case, such as the protests that were held in the mid 1960s and into the 1970s over the United States actions in Vietnam.
It is a little surprising that campuses remain so quiet now, even with the very similar wars going on in the Middle East. Most professors would agree that students do not seem to care about class material or real-world issues, and even President Huddleston has taken notice.
As we all know by now, President Huddleston gave a speech to the New Hampshire State Finance Committee that raised some eyebrows around campus, particularly with the AAUP, who held a "no-confidence" vote on Huddleston's actions. However, I am not here to critique President Huddleston or the AAUP for either of their actions.
I want to draw light on the particular quote by Huddleston that caught the AAUP's attention. Huddleston said:
"We still too frequently convey information in 50-minute lectures delivered by a ‘sage on the stage' to largely passive recipients in the audience three times a week for 15 weeks a term — as if that schedule were Biblically decreed and as if that were the way that ‘digital natives' actually learn today. Worse, we remain wedded to a credentialing regimen of courses and majors and degrees that mainly reflect ‘seat time,' rather than what students actually learn or need to learn."
The part that first grabbed my attention was the "largely passive recipients in the audience" line. You can say that again.
UNH is full of students who really do not care about many classes and real-world issues. Both of these problems have really simple solutions, but the changes need to be made from the top of the university system.
The entire General Education and Discovery program needs to be changed. I understand that it is important for students to have a well-rounded education, but students are too often stuck in meaningless Gen Eds that are simply GPA boosters. What good does that do? Other than boost your GPA of course. Germs? Making Babies? Intro to Music? I'm glad I know that washing my hands is healthy, condoms prevent STDs and babies, and that I can name which one of Beethoven's symphonies is being played in just 15 seconds.
Watch out Donald Trump, here comes The New Hampshirite, future entrepreneur of the century. I'm going to be as healthy as an ox and musically sophisticated, that is a one-two punch to make millions off of. If UNH loses funding there are going to be even more 250 seat brainless lectures, because classes like those are cheaper to run.
The second problem I mentioned above, UNH students not seeming to take an interest in world news and events, can also be improved. This became blatantly apparent Sunday night following the news of Osama bin Laden's death. Universities across the country including Penn State, West Virginia and even UMass had students pouring into the streets in celebration. I made my way downtown and UNH was dead quiet – a virtual ghost town.
One of the reasons that students of the 60s and 70s were so active was because the schools allowed them to and even encouraged it in a way. Many universities would hold what were called "teach-in" discussions and debates for up to three days every semester.
During these teach-ins, classes would be replaced by debates and workshops dedicated to discussing the Vietnam War and other national events in a respectful and civil manner. What is really more important, learning about something you can probably look up in about three minutes online or examining and discussing real world events that are currently impacting your life in more ways than you know?
Vietnam protesters were called "bad Americans" for not supporting the government despite the fact that it is our responsibility and right to critique the government. I do not think protesters are "bad Americans" at all, but I do think that you can be a "bad American" if you do not take the time to learn and discuss what is really happening in the world.
Then the question arises, should we as a people be morally responsible for letting it happen? If you're not being taught or discussing world events in class, then educate yourself.
Stay classy, not UMassy