Editor, the Gauntlet,
Re: "Tuning Out," Feb. 13, 2003.
James Keller's arguments on student discontent vs. responsibility are totally sound, but lead to the question of whether the group or the individual is greater than the other, or whether there should be a balance between the two.
Consumer markets gear toward the individual, including sales of the education package, yet the university is bound to serve our society at large (i.e. through academic research as stated). I would suspect there would be some sort of balance, but what sort exactly?
This is where student leaders need to think big.
The greatest balance, to my mind, between the group and the individual is democracy. Democracy in the classroom amounts to a professor evaluation, wherein the role of the individual should be as an appointed "ghost" student (a spy from the administration, as it were). The consumer side of the equation amounts to a money-back guarantee upon return of goods, regardless of service rendered. This benefits the larger group--the university--in marketing, and the customer--the individual--in patron satisfaction. The greater society of individuals then benefits from the academic research produced by professors with a good degree of tenure. Although these variables do all exist in various extents, the democracy connection between group and individual is currently missing.
Changes to the system of this scope are profound, I'll be one of the first to admit, and so they would require profound leadership, but that's something we're not getting from the undergraduates who fork over dough so the profs can somnambulate in their lectures.
What we need is a stronger Students' Union willing to talk and walk on the "big-picture" issues of popular democracy.