College, Inc.: The Education Business

There has been a lot of conversation in the past year about the cost of college. The insurmountable debt of student loans is unbelievable; students are burdened for the rest of their lives simply because they want to get an education. America prides itself on offering freedoms that many other countries do not, one of them being education. With the price tag of that education rising steadily over the past few decades, it is becoming clearer and clearer that the U.S. college system no longer values the freedom to be educated. It instead values the freedom to charge for that education.

On June 29th, 6ABC reported that Rider University, a private college in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, was being sued by one of its former softball coaches. The plaintiff alleges that the school “decided to let her go after she complained that women’s sports teams got fewer resources than men’s teams.” This allegation is shocking to the public on a number of levels: it indicates that sexism played a role in the allocation of funds, and it also indicates that the sole reason for this woman’s termination was because she asked for more money.

As a current Rider University student who has been attending the school for three years and will be graduating this December, I sadly did not find the implications of this lawsuit to be shocking at all. Instead, I found them to be disappointing, but expected of a school that has continually proven to me, to others enrolled, and to its educators that it does not care about the welfare of its students and staff.

Rider University’s administration is the quintessence of what’s wrong with the U.S.’s private college system. Its members have lost the love and passion for education that drives people to become university employees in the first place and instead turn to worship the checks that come every week. They no longer see the faces of the students and staff; they see the number of dollars they assess that person can offer them.

The value of money over people can be proven, I am sure, throughout Rider’s history as a private college, but incredulously, we need only look back to this September to see a shining example of administrative selfishness. In the fall of 2015, Rider University professors unionized under the American Association of University Professors were organizing a strike because the university was attempting to “create a two-tier system of faculty,” Rider professor and former AAUP chapter president David Dewberry told NJ.com. The school was attempting to hire more adjunct professors and phase out full- and part-time professors as a way to cut costs. A classified ad soliciting adjunct professors was posted before the school had even attempted to negotiate with AAUP.

This speaks volumes not only about the level of disrespect Rider University administration clearly has for its staff, but for its students as well. If the members of Rider University administration cared about the education and well-being of its student body, they would work closely with their staff to ensure that the best education was being provided. Instead, they went behind the backs of the educators their institution claims to support and searched for a discount.

I am calling on the administrative staff of Rider University and any other college in the U.S. whose administration has behaved in this way to make a change. Stop treating your students like wallets and stop treating your educators and staff like line-item budgets. Try to remember why you got into the field of higher education; and if you find that the reason was a numerical value, do us all a favor and walk away.

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