Awesome administrative arrogance



When I tell people what’s going on in higher education, the tales are often so bizarre that I completely understand why I’m greeted with disbelief.

Many times I’ve mentioned the epic arrogance of administration, how it is simply impossible to tell them anything besides what they want to hear. If you’re not being sycophantic, you’re not part of the team, and greeted with contempt, at best, or petty rage that can go on for years, at worst.

Mercifully, administration is often eager to document their behavior, so I have at least something to show (justifiably) disbelieving eyes when I claim yet again that administration in higher education is out of control. Another example administrative arrogance to the point of insanity has come to pass.

Some time back, I mentioned how the entire first year class in a (former) top graduate school resigned, after a year of trying to negotiate with admin. A year where all these students could get was lies and stonewalling.

They weren’t alone, and knew they weren’t alone:

Since releasing our statement, we have received hundreds of emails of support because our experience resonates so strongly with faculty and students worldwide. Our situation is far too familiar, and far too typical among institutions of higher learning,…

So, rather than continue to be suckers in the higher education system, they resigned, in writing, publicly, making it very clear that they simply would not take further abuse. This was an act of despair on their part—their year of coursework will mostly not transfer, and has minimal market value, nothing compared to the debt they took on for that coursework. They wanted to be part of a noted fine arts program, but after a year of being in that program, they saw it was not as advertised, or as it once was.

A new administrator came in, and plundered the program between the times the students signed up, and showed up, on campus. Everyone outside knew what happened:

Over the past decade, USC’s MFA Program became one of the top programs of its kind in the nation. As alumni, we are heartbroken to see our once highly respected program so swiftly and grievously diminished.

Not just old alumni above, but faculty and recent graduates responded with overwhelming support for the mass resignation, agreeing that these students were not treated fairly by any understanding of that word.

Now to consider administration’s response to the students saying in writing, in unison, “We are not going to take it anymore, we quit!” with the support of every non-administrator aware of what was going on.

I wouldn’t believe the administrative response to the mass resignation if I didn’t see the source, in an open letter from the Dean to the students:

“…we have not recorded your withdrawal. Instead, we have granted each of you a two-year leave of absence. If you let us know that you wish to rejoin the school before fall classes commence this year, or before the date that students are admitted next year or the year after, we will welcome and celebrate your return…”
–emphasis added

That’s right: the Dean won’t let them quit school. The epic, epic, arrogance here is, well, epic. These students aren’t 10 years old, they’re adults, and they’ve already returned to the real world, leaving the foulness of their experience with administrators in higher education behind them.

And the Dean has “granted” them a leave of absence, instead. For two years, no less. Seriously, she granted this. You don’t grant something that nobody asks for…you might offer it, I suppose, and hope for the best, but this is pure arrogance.

Please, gentle reader, imagine if you quit your job after a year of lies and abusive treatment from a boss that you’d established was invulnerable to input.

What conclusion would you draw if, after you publicly submitted a letter of resignation with the support of everyone else involved with the company, your boss wrote that he was “granting” you a 2 year leave of absence instead? You’d consider him insane at the very least, right?

At least with a job, you might be desperate in two years, but who really thinks the students are going to be desperate to get deeper into debt two years from now? There are plenty of other art schools where you might not get cheated as badly as Roski.

Here, the Dean’s letter is online, for all to see, exactly how insane administration in higher education is today. Recall, the only thing administration in higher education cares about is growth—the size of the school is everything. I’ve documented many times how admin will use fraud to inflate the size of the school, with many campuses having large enrollments but empty classrooms once the checks come in. We’re now at the point that even students that publicly resign are still counted as students, just “on leave of absence.” And I thought promoting cheating and Pell Grant fraud was bad enough. What’s next? Forced enrollment of high school students into college programs, where they must take debt (and, of course, won’t be allowed to resign…)?

Since obviously the Dean (and her superiors, who had to approve the granting of leave) is quite insane, it would be piling on for me to tear apart the rest of the Deanling’s writing, which is filled with insincerities and outright lies. The students have no such reservations, and prepared a helpful fact sheet basically correcting every sentence the Dean wrote.

I’ll give one quick example (the very first from the fact sheet) of how out of touch admin here is:

“I regret that several of our MFA students have stated they will leave the program…”

I state this one because it’s about as close to truth as an administrator gets. It’s not “several” it’s “all,” 100%, every single student, all of them. The Dean has probably been told this dozens of times, and still doesn’t understand how badly she’s failed. She naturally hasn’t been fired, despite losing 100% of her customers…higher education is the only business where this level of failure still has no repercussions for the bosses. It’s probably why there are so many wildly incompetent bosses in higher education, but I digress.

Now, I grant that graduate classes aren’t overflowing with students…but they never are, not in legitimate programs. Using “several” in this instance is severe spin, covering up the complete failure of the Dean to trick any students into staying in a program that changed dramatically after the students agreed to enter it.

Honest, there are many reasons for higher education’s debasement into, in many cases, a scheme for trapping people into a lifetime of inescapable debt. The primary reason, by far, is higher education has been taken over by people such as this Deanling, who are beyond reason, care nothing for education in general, and cannot be removed no matter how thoroughly they display their incompetence.

The students continue to respond rationally to admin:

We already officially withdrew from USC on May 15th, but the dean’s statement forces us to withdraw once again. We wish to fully withdraw from the University of Southern California, effective immediately.

I do hope the students are generously granted a withdrawal, but this really is worrisome. Considering the recent legislation to give administration more power in Wisconsin, should we give people like this more power? Will someday police drag college students on to campus for their enforced classwork?