A revolution in dependence
The discussion on grade inflation and the leaked list of our 4.0 peers have evoked a variety of responses, from lament and whining about the “high” percentage, to the more dismissive apathy of “who cares?”
But I am outraged. And not at grade inflation. No, I am outraged at how low the number is. I want all my of peers to get all A’s. I am not saying that grade inflation is good. Neither am I saying the University should just hand us all unblemished report cards for simply being here. Rather I want to see my fellow undergraduates earning exceptional grades. I want to be enrolled in a University where every single student has worked hard, has earnestly engaged with material, has contributed to the life of classroom, and has thus, for lack a better word and system, “earned” an A.
One could argue revolt is needed against a variety of ills at Columbia: hipster-dom, dirty snow, dining hall policies, and shoddy infrastructure (to the loose tiles on College Walk, I’m talking to you. And the dirty snow next to the loose tile onto which I faceplanted, I’m talking to you too).
The revolt I’m imaging is against something more serious and more pervasive. See, I want our undergraduate community to be just that: a community, of healthy, intelligent, innovative high achievers. So I want to see a revolt against an undergraduate culture of independent self-interest, against the competitive focus on relative gain, against the notion of ‘the more people who do poorly the better off I’ll be!’ This is not the ideal of an Ivy League academic. We should not base the definitions of our own self-worth and success upon the failures and unsucess, both real and perceived, of our peers. We are better than that.
So here is a call for revolution. For a revolution that demands and creates a campus of spirited interaction, and of cooperative engagement. This is a call for tireless dedication, action, and enthusiasm toward flourishing mutually. This call has been made before. We are a University with a storied legacy of rebellion and communal action. But current economic, social, and political climates of fear and uncertainty require even more immediate action. We must no longer succumb to the banality of evil that resides in our own vanity.
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