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Universities should be more than diploma mills

Next week, 2,969 USF students will graduate and should be ready for “real life,” whatever that may be. But are they really ready? The way USF is run right now might or might not give these students a good chance of getting a job, but does not seem to necessarily make them better educated people on the whole, a goal for which universities should strive.

This semester, I took a class that was not required for my major. It sounded interesting and fit nicely into my schedule but it did not fulfill a single requirement of mine. Some people in the class asked me why I took it and just looked at me incredulously when I told them it was purely out of personal interest. The same students also asked if Germany was still under communist rule.

The big irony though was that the class I took because I happened to be interested in the subject matter turned out to be the most boring class I have ever taken (I won’t say which class. Grades are not filed yet). All the professor, a grad student teaching a class of 300, seemed to care about was that students attained a passing grade so she could keep her job. Actually making the students enjoy the class and spark interest for the subject matter (It was supposed to be an introductory course, after all) did not seem to fit into her plans.

The PowerPoint presentations she rushed through, sometimes lasting more than two hours without a break, were so dull that she included the rule into her syllabus that “eye-rolling and teeth-sucking while the instructor is lecturing is not respectful, and students are to refrain from such behavior.” So much for mutual respect.

It is really sad and also quite disconcerting that some professors seem to just cater to Education Inc. only to provide the students a sheet of paper that lets the world know he or she attained “knowledge,” and therefore is eligible to be paid X-amount of money in a job.

What happened to the idea of actually learning something while you attend college? After all, our university’s Web site advertises that “Teaching, research and service based on the highest standards of discovery, creativity and intellectual attainment” are their visions of the university. Lately, it seems as if people are just herded through.

I did, however, have professors this semester (I won’t name them either) who always tried to make things interesting. Those professors had major problems with the way the university is run right now, particularly with the fact that all the Board of Trustees members come from the business sector and not one member from academia.

No wonder it seems to be a bigger issue to them how much money is made off parking fees or how much of a raise to give each other, than the fact that a course named Critical Thinking — irony of ironies — has to be taught at a mall.

I am not suggesting our university’s education is entirely bad, but if somebody in an English class asks you where the Library is located, it should make you think. Hopefully, the leaders of our university can in the future accommodate facilitation of learning into their future business plans. How about next semester?

Sebastian Meyer is a junior majoring in environmental