Monday, August 01, 2005

Standing in the fire 

Indyjonz is quite upset to find this student's account of a philosophy course, taught by an openly gay professor who uses coarse language and challenges students who profess to be conservative and Christian. At the end of the term the student was able to get the faculty member suspended, but the student, wishing to give the professor a second chance, did not follow through with a formal complaint. Given what happened after, he regrets the decision. As Indy observes:
How many students feel the need to keep their mouths shut on what are supposed to be open campuses? I'd say the majority! Better to just get through college with good grades then to open yourself up to the hate and vitriol of the left.
There is something to that. Some students, I observe, will sit through classes with professors who are difficult because they can't get another class or because the course is required. Seeing a department chair is often a step taken, but the next step, filing the formal complaint, is bypassed as often the student simply wants to hear that they are in fact right that the professor is acting unprofessionally. There is little a chair or dean can do, though, without the formal complaint. And filing the complaint, and the publicity it engenders, will cause the student to wonder if s/he will be a victim of retaliation from another like-minded prof somewhere else. (Here's a recent example from SCSU.)

My observation, from advising students like this, is that students somehow think that sitting through a class like this is important as a matter of pride, and as a way to reach the other students in the course. I guess that's an admirable impulse, but frankly I'd prefer to see offenders brought to task within the formal complaint process when a simple "please stop" request to the professor fails.