Thursday, October 1, 2009

Academic freedom? Or Corporate responsibility?

Academic freedom? Or Corporate responsibility?
by Lualhati Madlangawa-Guerrero

From the days I kept on studying in school, I simply experience more of restriction of idea and of legally motivated movement than of enjoying friends and of accumulating knowledge. This problem somehow I think, seemed a part of a greater plan in a guise of "striving for academic excellence"- simply by blocking away academic freedom and progressive instruction in every academic institution, especially if it is owned by a corporate giant.

In fact,
Upon writing this, I read a post in Multiply regarding the criticism of students protesting against the proposal on banning long haired men in that school. The work seemed well, readable and more of an intellectual, however that person simply defends the corporation than the educational institution, simply by saying some words coming from the student manual. Well... that student manual was and is a tool of restrictions made by the administrators to control student's idea and of legally motivated movement, of thinking subversive as bad-contrary to the said "Academic freedom" and "progressive instruction" in that said institution. How come that person is defending the administrator's than of the student's interests?

That person, in defending, may say this academic circular as part of her defence:
Moreover, according to the Academic Circular No. 1, Revised 2005 Section 4, Paragraph 5, Male students are not allowed to wear earrings, ball caps and to sport colored or loose longhairs (Long hair should be pony-tailed and well groomed). This is the policy of the University crafted by the Administration and of course they will not create another policy that would contradict the one existing.
Okay, fine. But how come the administrators are proposing a policy against long haired male persons despite that policy? Only to end up trashed out due to opposition made by males who also sport long hairs? That person defending and saying that proposed policy is a mere "suggestion?" To them it is nothing, but to others it is a serious matter to oppose before it pass through and accepted by these puppets.

For me, I simply disagree with that academic circular, especially of not allowing to wear headgear and to sport colored hair? Why? Just because to show "Manliness" and "decency?" There's nothing wrong in going to campus wearing a cap and wandering around, but not inside the classroom especially during classes. And how about sporting long hair or colored hair? There's nothing wrong with that, especially that's his will to have so, and he even trying himself to look decent despite having a long or a colored hair. I also even think that if a member of a Sikh minority was studying there, will he pass the ordeal of having a short hair? Of not wearing a turban? School policies may disagree with the Sikh religious dogma of having uncut hair and of turbans too!

Secondly, I disagree the manual for saying this:
“Do not conduct/or join rallies, illegal assemblies and similar acts that disrupt academic functions.”
These words seemed conflicting with the ideals concerning academic and other basic freedoms man have, that includes the school as long as it has a reason and a basis in conducting a legally motivated demonstration. Another is that, that person who was looking from the door and criticizing the protesters outside the campus seemed too annoying and even saying "not to conduct rallies that disrupt academic institutions," Is she or the university include outside the campus in saying it? And how come the university was also setting a "legal hour" to conduct an activity from 12:30 to 1:00? Legal hours may include these demonstrations, especially coming from a legally recognized progressive organization.

If Foucault (RIP) lives, he would even call that institution as a "prison", and that institution is also an example of a one part of a vast network, including schools, military institutions, hospitals, and factories, which build a panoptic society for its members. This system creates “…disciplinary careers…” (Discipline and Punish, p. 300) for those locked within its corridors. It is operated under the scientific authority of medicine, psychology and criminology. As well as, it operates according to principles which ensure that it “…cannot fail to produce delinquents.” (Discipline and Punish, p. 266) Delinquency, indeed, is produced when social petty crime (such as taking wood in the lord's lands) is no longer tolerated, creating a class of specialized "delinquents" which acts as the police's proxy in surveillance of society.

Back to the topic,
The example that I have stated, somehow shows how a privately owned institution is seemly bipolar, of being an educational institution and of a corporation, of being adhere to academic freedom and of being committed to corporate social responsibility, these are quite opposing especially in ideas related to these. Just like the earlier protests against the proposed "long hair policy", and of a decree "not conducting rallies and other progressive but legally motivated events", it diminishes academic freedom and even "progressive instruction" to mere words, and also to expand further the administrator's "corporate-related ideas" that may also curb the ideas of a youth into a mere educated person motivated by profit, of becoming a peon of the ruling gentry in a backward, corrupted system.

In addition to that,
Having a commericalized, colonialized, fascist type of education, motivated and advocated by corporate minded interests tries to turn youth into peons. According to the first and second writeups I have made, it even shows how every progressive leaning youth is trying to preserve its freedoms and privileges despite the administration's attempt to curtail. The problem of every corporate minded owner of an educational institution tends to ailienate education, and even youth from the real face of the society, and even tends to "unite" education with profit in a guise of development, profit through increase in exorbitant fees and even tries to minimize student movement through creating its set of rules that contradicts academic freedom and progressive instruction.

How worrying and even agitating, especially that a student or a teacher, may say to someone that "You are studying in a private school, you must be thankful that you study so don't argue" or "You need to study your lessons, it is a key for the future". But still, you cannot underestimate the growing numbers of angry students who are trying to express their ideas, their reasons, their aspirations contrary to the ideas of the school, whether it is state or private! And not all things arguable can be pass through parliamentary procedure, especially if around is more of a reaction than of progress- that is the real way of a student, for anything around is part of a greater struggle man must pass.