Is Sentiment the Cost Now that Freedom Has Been Lost?

The Modern College, a place where students guided by mentors, supported by peers, experiment with adult responsibilities, free to discover their life’s purpose, only impersonates its Pre-COVID self To mitigate health risks of the pandemic, in March and again in Fall 2020, university administrators are restricting students’ freedoms, for which they believe they must, yet, in doing so, their actions diminish the viability and vitality of the college culture.

College administrators are flexing their mightiest leverage, disciplinary action, to compel compliance with ever-changing safety policies, like at Boston University (BU), but in doing so, students are reacting with dismay and frustration:

Furthermore, BU officials designate faculty as “Face Mask Police”, exacerbating divisions between faculty and students that is the antithesis to effective collaboration essential for acquiring knowledge. To date, faculty, typically by age are at higher risk of COVID-19 complications, have already cast students, who are likely given their age and the diminished health risks to socialize with their peers, as potential disease spreaders

Although more restrictive and more debilitating to the social experience which is equally essential in the development of young adults, nonetheless, Albion College officials have taken the even more draconian step of requiring students to stay within a 4.5 mile radius of the Michigan campus, or risk suspension, mandating that students download an app to track their movements.  One student remarked: 

“There’s a few new rules. Returning, we all expected to wear masks and social distance. That’s pretty normal these days. But at Albion, it’s like we’re about to become prisoners.”

Hayden Bakker, 22, on beginning his last year of college

The Detroit News, August 19, 2020 (Bold emphasis added by CMC)

So, students, like Mr. Bakker, are now paying tens of thousands of dollars in tuition only to have their freedom and thus college experience diminished.  And, in order to participate in any semblance of an on campus college experience, they have to submit to the nearly dictatorial implementation of health mandates, radically reducing their freedom or quit and go home. College students’ frustration, and by extension their parents, is compounding, and their sentiments about the value of a college experience are at risk of declining.

As safety measures are haphazardly and autocratically implemented, the social contract between universities and students is fraying. Disillusioned students who sacrificed a majority of their childhood abiding by the rules, acquiring the necessary merit to gain admissions to college, believing they would be rewarded with the opportunity to experience a greater freedom in order to understand how best to pursue a purposeful life, are beginning to resent the very reward for their toils, wondering aloud if the genuine college experience was only an illusion, and a very expensive one at that.

For more information about how Creative Marbles experts can help students and parents navigate the new normal of a college education, contact us at Creative Marbles Consultancy

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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