The Potential for Abuse

It’s funny how slow a progressive society can be.  We like to think of ourselves as being accepting, open-minded and awesomely cool; in reality, we’re nothing more than we were 500 years ago.

This month’s Walrus magazine contains an article entitled Campus Confidential. It’s a disturbing read.  In my mind, Liz Beatty now ranks up there with Amy Chua as the author of the most humiliating thing in print: “The potential for abuse is vast.”

The article is not about professors abusing students, or students abusing professors, or each group abusing members of their own group; no, this article is about making accommodations for students who need them.  The examples cited in the article are extortionate things such as note-takers, extra time on assignments and exams, technical aids and “distraction-reduced environments”.  The article also notes that students require a formal diagnosis from a physician before the educational institution can give them any help.

This debate is not about the potential for abuse of a system.  This is a matter of hierarchy.  A professor is desperate to stay on top of the pedestal, and no wanna-be is gonna tell them how to do their job.  If someone of equal social status–a physician, say–suggests that something is kosher, well, then it’s okay… maybe.

This is all about snobbery.

The lofty halls of academia took quite the hit when social class became politically-incorrect.  Institutions for higher education want everyone to attend (because bigger is better, and all the money is the same colour) but they don’t really want to  accommodate anyone who formerly would have been relegated to the kitchens and back hallways.

I don’t think any reasonable person would hold it against a small institution if they said, before taking the student’s money and making promises, they couldn’t afford to accommodate a certain need.  Support staff and equipment can be expensive, and it’s also difficult to quickly get through the bureaucracy to acquire these things (but that’s a subject for another day).  Were a school to publicly post their limitations, denial of accommodations beyond that limit would be valid.

The “vast potential for abuse” rears its ugly head when the teacher is allowed to tell the student how to learn.

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