Well that went by pretty quick…6 weeks gone. It seems like only yesterday we were introducing ourselves to everyone and realizing how many awfully boring engineering students were enrolled in this class. That was a joke everyone. Definitely one of the better classes I’ve had at Pitt; and I’m not just saying that. It really was a great class-the people and the material learned. I learned a lot and I think along with all of you, I became a little more expressive and outgoing and I think part of that came from the topic we were provided: class and labor at the university. We could’ve each had our own topic, and that would’ve been fine, but I think it was really cool that we all worked within one specific subject and built a kind of comradery in our class discussions. Not only did we all work on the same topic, but it was a topic that has affected us in some way or another and will continue to affect us in the future. Each of us, even if it was a miniscule difference, took a stance somewhat different from our peers, but the end result was that all of us—through our own research and the research of everyone else—became pretty well educated on the matter.
The biggest surprise to me was how much I did not know about class and labor at universities. From underpaid adjuncts to free tuition at foreign schools, much of the readings and research that I did in this class brought all new information to me. Being a student, I think it was a great topic to jump into because it gave me an awareness that I never had before. I am going to college, so it only seems logical to educate myself on how these schools operate and how they’ve changed over the years. It was interesting to explore some rising issues and issues that have been around for decades. How schools have become more and more like businesses over the last thirty years, and how schools have gotten away from an academic-focused environment have been the basic focuses of my research. All of us at some point or another came across research or readings that had to do with the rise of tuition; and even though not everyone’s subtopic was ‘rising tuition’, I think it affected all of our viewpoints in some way or another. I think it has also been the biggest problem in what our research has encompassed. The rise in tuition has become utterly insane compared to the rise of all other commodities, and people have really suffered for it. The fact that tuition keeps rising, but students and parents keep going into debt just to provide a better future is a sure sign that something needs to change.
After all the readings, class discussions, and further research, I have truly begun to think differently of universities, and even my own university. In talking to friends and colleagues, I have slowly started to see how these issues on class and labor do affect more people than I originally thought. People that I’ve worked with in classes, drank a beer with at Hems, or have just seen around school…all seem to have been affected by some of the issues we’ve discussed. The disheartening thing to me though, is that it doesn’t seem like a lot of these people really know how bad it is…and how bad it is getting. Things do need to change at universities and I think educating ourselves about the problem is a great first step to do that.