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Davis, California

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Editorial: Students for sale

Over the last six months, UC Davis has come under heavy scrutiny for the administration’s treatment of students. A lot of time and money have been spent on administrative reviews aimed at bettering the relationship between police, admins, and the students they serve.

While such criticism is fully deserved, it fails to address the reason why students are protesting in the first place: The cost of our university education is going up and the quality is going down.

It’s been said before, and we’ll say it again – college education should be more than just a resume item.

As students in the University of California system, we are credited with being members of the intellectual elite, but we’re treated more like Model Fords on an assembly line. Surely with a bachelor’s degree comes a deeper, more complex understanding of the world than was held at the unripened age of 18. But it doesn’t seem that UC Davis is doing much to accelerate this process.

By senior year, we’re better at speaking during class when we haven’t done the reading, better at staying up all night writing essays and better at obtaining drugs not prescribed to us. Four years and thousands of dollars later, we are better at playing the system, and that’s about it.

So what is to blame? We approach this problem with what little critical thinking skills we have garnered through GE requirements.

Perhaps it is the quarter system, whose measly 10 weeks provide the same level of engagement as online traffic school. It takes a dedicated professor to give feedback to every essay written in their 300-person intro class. It takes an even more dedicated student to write an essay worth reading with only six hours of lecture material to inform their argument.

Perhaps it is the budget cuts, which mean less attention to individual students. They mean less institutional pressure to not text in class. They mean professors are forced to teach to the test. They mean no one is going to notice if you don’t show up. Furthermore, maybe it is the fact that students are forced to take classes they’re not interested in because there are not enough seats in the classes they care about.

As the cost goes up, there is a greater need for afterschool jobs and less time to focus on studying. When making lattes is your livelihood, it’s hard to prioritize 100 pages of Foucault.

Perhaps all of these issues are leading students to care more about their diploma than the education that comes with it.

But perhaps the problem is bigger than our campus or even the State. Perhaps the real issue is a society which prioritizes money over character, A’s over comprehension and campus police over professors in impacted majors.

If this campus has learned anything over the last few months, it’s that the choices of the UC Davis administration are not necessarily in the best interest of the students.

So let’s stop treating ourselves like products. Let’s start getting our money’s worth out of each and every unit we sign up for. And let’s start thinking critically about our education.


  1. “American society in the standard conception it has of itself is simply no longer exciting. The most exciting things in America today are movements to change America. America is becoming evermore the utopia of sterilized, automated contentment. The ‘futures’ and ‘careers’ for which American students now prepare are for the most part intellectual and moral wastelands. This chrome-plated consumers’ paradise would have us grow up to be well-behaved children. But an important minority of men and women coming to the front today have shown that they will die rather than be standardized, replaceable, and irrelevant.” Mario Savio – 1964


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