By Jacob Karr
At Brown University, any enrolled student, regardless of economic background, has the right to attend any class he or she wants. Most of us don’t just accept this—we embrace it and celebrate it. We put our financial aid policies on a pedestal. But is this a good idea? Certainly not, in my view. (Who am I, you may ask? What do I know of this world, and how it works? I wear piqué polo shirts and an arrogant grin: what more do you need to know?)
Instead, the number of courses one is allowed to take should be proportional to the amount of tuition paid, before university ‘subsidies’ and ‘redistribution.’ So, for example, as the scion of two super-successful Manhattan professionals who can actually afford to pay my way through college, I should be able to enroll in a full four courses. Should some poor kid from the South Bronx get such VIP treatment? Come on. Just because his or her parents are working three or four jobs in order to make ends meet doesn’t mean we (notice the ‘we’ here—I position myself within the discourse of those who hold power) should let him or her take three or four classes. If a student is only paying 1/4 of tuition, well then he or she can only take one class! Why should those ‘free riders’ be able to take advantage of our money, our hard-earned dollars? Restricting the right to attend classes to tuition-payers makes a lot of sense. Just trust me on this.
After all, what is a tuition payment? A tuition payment is an investment, and as with any investment, we expect a return. It follows that the more we invest, the more we should receive. Every academic program is funded by our tuition ‘revenue.’ This includes that Poli Sci class on ‘Prosperity’ I really wanted to take last semester but alas! A couple of damn first-generationers took the last two spots. (Don’t worry, I had Daddy make a phone call.)
We—the tuition-payers—should be the only ones who get to elect our professors, to choose the food we eat at the Ratty and to decide our own grades (our professors are of course nothing more than employees with PhDs). What about the welfare prom queens? Well, they can have our used books, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll give ‘em our leftover chicken fingers on Fridays.
Poor Students, how would you feel if you had money, and you were forced to spend it on your fellow classmates? Yes, of course! I knew you would be just as enraged at the injustice of it all! Knowledge, like money, is power—in one fell swoop you are taking both away from us!
Many will say this is not fair since students on financial aid will have fewer opportunities to learn. Exactly! Poor people should have to work that much harder than us, and make better grades. Consider the old saying: “nobody spends someone else’s money as carefully as his own.” If you yourself are footing the bill for your entire education, you will have more incentive to learn. You don’t need better opportunities, you need better incentives! As you can clearly see, universal access to classes is as immoral as it is impractical, breeding bitterness in we ‘haves’ and creating a culture of dependency in you ‘soon-to-haves.’
In general, universal classage encourages people to think—at least in this ivory tower far removed from the concrete jungle—that we are all equal. This is a dangerous notion. When everyone studies, but only a small fraction pay most of the cost for those textbooks, those who don’t pay forget that my family has more money than theirs. This is unacceptable. Our institutions of higher education should reflect our society as a whole—that is, we should remind ourselves constantly of the vast economic gaps that separate us, and we should structure our university in such a way as to make those obstacles insurmountable. We should keep our academic classes as exclusive as our socio-economic ones.
While I am pretty pleased with myself for coming up with all of this so far, we must go a step further if I am to succeed in shoving my head entirely up your ass.
Course preferences should be prioritized according to the total sum of donations bequeathed to the university by a student’s grandparents. Think about it, because I know I sure as hell haven’t.