College level work: Don’t shave


Many times now, I’ve asserted that most of what is done in college nowadays is bogus, neither preparing students for jobs nor giving them much in the way of higher education. I’ve even cited studies showing most college courses have no requirements, i.e., require no work from their students.

It’s easy to sit in my chair, wave my hand at a department and say “it’s all crap.” How about I simply demonstrate just how bad it is?

The easy target will be Women’s Studies, sometimes called Gender Studies…but we all know that these are “yay women, heckyah!” type courses. Anyway, I’ve always been stunned at how ridiculous the assignments and coursework for these types of courses are. I’ve had students hand me lollipops for course credit, or wear stupid t-shirts, or, well, just ridiculous stuff that no reasonable person could call “challenging work” like what’s supposed to be done on campuses.

But that’s just my eyewitness testimony. Let’s take a look at a recent news piece that actually talks about a Gender Studies assignment as though it weren’t ridiculous:

University offers female students extra credit for not shaving their armpits

As I’m won’t to say, I can’t make this stuff up. You take the course, and get “bonus credit” if you don’t shave your armpits for that semester. You also have to write about your feelings in a journal. Nothing wrong with getting in touch with your feelings, I suppose, but paying $10,000 a year for the privilege seems a bit much. A whole letter grade to write in my own journal? Does anyone get this assignment wrong? The writer of the article sure doesn’t think this is a pretty weak assignment.

Anyway, to get an extra letter grade, a female just has to not shave her armpits for a few months. Males aren’t left out—they can get the same amount of credit if they DO shave. Their entire bodies.

It’s so funny, these courses are supposed to be about fairness, and yet, somehow, this “don’t shave” thing has been going on for years without anyone noticing that females don’t have to work (sic) nearly as hard as the males for extra credit. Shaving my body would be a major task, for what it’s worth, although I’d probably lose five pounds or so.

It’s so funny, times 2, “extra credit” means work you’re doing that above and beyond what’s necessary for your course. If “don’t shave” is so strenuous that it’s extra, how can anyone think the regular coursework is hard in comparison?

Somehow, it gets nuttier, but only if you talk to the students involved:

“… Furthermore, by doing this kind of activist project I was no longer an armchair activist theorizing in the classroom.”

She’s serious. Not shaving your armpits is “activism” now. How about actually standing in front of a women’s hospital and protesting loudly there are no men’s hospitals? Oh wait, this is one-sided fairness.

Still, surely there’s a real women’s issue that could helped with some real activism? I stopped shaving last November…didn’t occur to me for a minute I was engaging in any sort of political commentary.

And…it gets nuttier:

It really was a life-changing experience,”

I can’t make this stuff up. They actually speak like “not shaving” is totally relevant. She should donate part of her genitals to women who’ve been affected by “female circumcision” to get a better idea of what a life-changing experience can be. Or maybe she could work as a prostitute for a while, or at least follow a crack-addicted prostitute around for a few weeks…these are the kinds of activities that totally would be worthy of extra credit, and would change her life far more dramatically than “don’t shave for a while.”

And…it gets even nuttier, and lines up with today’s discussion:

“…declined to participate in the project during the first two classes she took…but took the plunge during her third opportunity.”

This student has taken THREE courses where she could get college credit for “not shaving.” A look at the course catalogue at the student’s institution reveals that there’s no way she could take three courses without taking at least a 2nd year course in gender studies. Really, there are that many Gender Studies courses.

The point? “Don’t shave for a while” qualifies as 2nd year course work in gender studies.

Let’s compare this to second year coursework in a, well, more respected field, in a course I teach on campus:

Input Derivative Principle for Laplace Transforms:
L{f(n) (t)} = snL{f(t)} – s(n-1) f(0) – … – sf(n-2)(0) – f(n-1) (0), for s > a

It takes hours of actual work for a student to master everything going on in that concept (and it’s not even worth a letter grade), and there are many, many such concepts in a real second year course. And yet the Gender Studies course has so little in it that “don’t shave” is considered going above and beyond the usual work.

I’m not saying either coursework necessarily helps much with day to day life, but can anyone honestly tell me “don’t shave” is remotely as difficult a concept to master and understand as the Input Derivative Principle for Laplace Transforms?

Tuition runs around $10,000 a year at ASU, where, apparently, the second year students learn “some people find hairy armpits on a female unattractive” and think they’re getting a college education. I’m serious.

As always, I point out that accreditation, which supposedly legitimizes the education at an institution, does nothing of the sort, and is a huge deception to the taxpaying public that’s supporting it. Administration, which in the past took responsibility for the care of young people and actively worked to improve education, now is only interested in extracting as much money as possible from the kids, using any means necessary.

Across the country, young people are burying themselves in debt, quite often for absolutely ridiculous coursework and indoctrination that will give no personal growth, no job skills, and no measurable increase in any ability.

Anyone who bothers to look can see it.