Yes, that’s always been true, and more true for some than for others. Popes who fathered children. CEOs who raided stock before departed for bigger and better things, leaving 401k plans in the dust.
But college professors who are “proudly unethical,” writing essays for students? Yup, it’s going on right now. Thanks to a recent Gawker article, I got another lesson in what other people think.
The article itself isn’t that amazing. Like I said, there have been plenty of unethical people throughout history, and it kind of makes sense for academics to write academic papers. Logical. But totally, totally wrong.
The point is that there is a company in Montreal that hires unemployed college professors (are they “college professors” is they aren’t employed by a college? I suppose that’s another essay…) to write papers for students for money. No attempt at teaching. Purely a paper-writing mill. The website itself acknowledges that it is unethical for the professors to be writing the papers, but, according to them, that’s okay. “…because the academic system is already so corrupt, we’re totally cool with that.”
Quick point – I’m not sure how they find the system corrupt. There is no definition of how a college is corrupt. Sure, I can see it when the administration raids the funds of the university to furnish their own home, but that really has no bearing on the actual quality and standards of the college itself. (And I’m not going to go into the argument about whether or not grade inflation exists. It does. But, if anything, that is in the students’ favor, so don’t complain.)
But back to the point at hand. The most interesting point about this article is actually the commentary from the people who have read it. Some people think it’s cheating and therefore wrong. Or they see it as double-cheating – you’re paying for an education and then cheating on the work, which means you’re also cheating yourself out of the money you’re spending on a supposed education. My favorite one, however, is from someone who says:
“…if I was an unemployed professor…I’d rather sit at Starbucks writing some Johnnie’s 101 paper than work at Subway, rake leaves or any other d***sucking job. THIS IS THE FUTURE. GET IN WHERE YOU FIT IN. ETHICS HAVE BECOME AN IDEA, NOT A REQUIREMENT.”
Hence the title of this blog. Ethics are optional, as per this anonymous poster who goes by the name “SadDaveKrieg.”
Well, hell, if ethics is optional, why am I paying my bills at all? Why work? I can forge forms showing I have a disability. I mean, obviously, I don’t belong working at a – gasp! – Subway! Only the lowest of the low would do that. And…bigger gasp…raking leaves! Manual labor? For someone with a degree? Now that’s even worse than having ethics!
Seriously, what is wrong with this world when we think we’re entitled to do something “where we fit in.” Who determines where we fit in?
And, keep in mind, I write this as an underemployed college professor who works part-time at two colleges to earn less than a full-time professor but has to teach more classes and has less support. And I still would rather hang on to my ethics and not be “where I fit in.” And if I had to work retail, I would. And if I had to rake leaves, I would. Because I’d rather have a job “below” me than discover that I compromised what I’d learned and what I believed in. I have to wonder if “SadDave” has a college degree, and how honest he was in getting it. And I also have to wonder…did “SadDave” ever take a critical thinking class, or perhaps one on ethics? Because obviously he deserves his money back on both of them if he did.
My youngest nephew just turned 19. He’s off at college. He’s had 2 jobs, neither of which lasted very long, and he seems to me to be rather unprepared for responsibilities and the real world. But he’s not alone. The more teenagers I meet, the more I realize how growing up has changed.
At the age of 19, I’d been out of high school for 2 years, having dropped out at 17 and gotten my GED before the rest of my class had graduated. I was working a full-time job and paying for my own car and insurance. I was still living at home but only because I couldn’t afford an apartment at NJ prices, but I was engaged and planning on moving out.
So, yeah that was a whole bunch of years ago, I have to admit. And times have changed.
But what’s made them change?
Is it helicopter parents?
My own change in socio-economic status that college a norm for teenagers?
The part of the country I’m living in?
Or is it a legitimate change across the board?
Are we not requiring the right things from our children?
Are we not allowing them to mature?
Are we taking away their sense of responsibility and replacing it with a sense of entitlement?
Lots of questions, and not many answers. But I do wonder if even just the little changes are having big effects. (No mention of the butterfly effect, I promise. Damn! There it was!) For example, at my son’s school, kids aren’t just dismissed willy nilly like when I was a kindergartner, forgotten on the steps because the bell rang and my sister walked home without me. No, today kids have to be picked up. Parents wait in massive lines, creeping up in their cars, ready with their yellow taxi hang tags that announce their child’s name and grade. Even children who are walking home have to have a parent show up with a photocopied shoe to prove they can walk home. Everyone gets awards for something. No one loses at Little League.
But that’s okay. Because in the front hall of the school is a fine selection of pamphlets that give great advice on studying, learning disabilities, and how everyone can be smart in their own way. And we took three of those pamphlets, wrapped them up, and mailed them to our nephew. And nestled in one of them is a note. And that note says that if he finds the note and emails us, he can have $20. So let’s see if he’s “responsible” enough to read them.
I love Calvin & Hobbes. They have all the best answers to homework and tests. When Calvin couldn’t do math, he wrote that answering the question was against his religious beliefs. And when he was asked to define a pronoun, he said it was a noun that lost its amateur status.
According to Calvin, then, being a professional means that you’re no longer an amateur. We would say that a professional gets paid.
So how can I, who gets paid nothing but instead expends time, money, and effort, be a professional student?
How can I, who searches for jobs at least three days a week, be a professional student?
How can I, who acknowledges just how much I have to learn, be a professional student?
Sure, there are those who get paid to be students (not loans – that’s a whole different blog posting!). They get stipends and grants that pay for both their education and their living expenses. They scoff at those of us who have to work to support ourselves while we study. They come out with their graduate degrees, never having spent a moment in the real world, but instead constantly and consistently hidden in their ivory tower, complaining of being a “poor student” but emerging without the cocoon of student loan debt to break out of.
Okay, so maybe there’s a little bitterness there. Maybe I would have loved the change to not have to pay out of pocket – and worse, to take student loans – but my choices were more limited for numerous reasons, and while I may be a bit bitter about it, at the same time, I’m happy to say that I’ve been out in the real world, and I’ve had real world experiences. They make me a better student (and a better teacher). And while I sure wouldn’t mind being a professional student sometimes, eventually, I’m not one now, and I doubt I’ll ever be.