by Joshua Carll
“Should the students have more say over what they are taught?” NY Times Blog posed this question on January 2010. The subject of “are students, customers” has been a tremendous controversy within academia, but why? Why aren’t students seen as customers?
In customer service, the worker tries their best to give the customer what they want. In the end, the customer, more or less, walks away with their needs met. Student service differs from customer service because with student service, the teacher must give to the student what they need, which might not be what they “thought” they needed or wanted. “For me, as faculty, figuring out what students want and need mostly comes in the classroom and by looking at the student work and by interacting with them one-on-one,” stated John Lore, CCC English Professor.
“If students are customers, then the university is a business. A business’s only goal is to succeed, as in make the largest profit possible, which it usually does by purveying the cheapest product it can at the highest price customers will pay,” said Rebecca Schuman, education columnist for Slate.com.
We, as students, aren’t looking to spend a copious amount of money just on education alone. A majority of us are looking to be treated as individuals. Some colleges have raised their tuition “anywhere from 30 to 50%” in the past 10 years, said Judy Capuzzi, CCC Professor of Business Studies.
The customer is “always right”? So how can a student be a customer if the customer is always right, but sometimes they are not? “The idea of customer service may be useful,” said Karrol Jordan, CCC Professor of Psychology. Jordan shares that the concept of awareness should be taken from the world of customer service and applied to academia. Teachers should be aware of the needs of students and help them to achieve their goals, within reason, because teaching is all about “a constant, deliberate attempt to enlighten, instruct, but also to encourage questioning,” Jordan said.
Lore believes that educators and students should meet halfway. Professors shouldn’t coddle their students. They need to work hard for the degrees they are earning, not buying.
“Happily, it’s not a major problem at a small school like CCC. Students don’t graduate from here with $30,000 debts. We’re not trying to sell anybody anything. We’re just trying to offer a quality educational experience at the lowest cost possible. That’s a pretty logical and noble goal to have” stated Kevin McGarvey, Associate Professor of Arts and Humanities.
A majority of people become teachers because they love sharing in the knowledge with others. For Jordan, sharing ideas and discussing different points of view makes teaching so great for her. Lore loves books and to talk about the stories read. “It’s amazing being a professor,” Lore responded when asked about his teaching experiences.
These professors are just some of the wonderful educators we have on campus that love to teach the students here and treat their students as individuals.
Students are, more or less, like investors because they are looking at the long term outcome and not the short term outcome. Not only that, but they commit money, time, and hard work into their education, hoping for a great outcome, like an amazing job where they can be happy and make a fair income. Just as CCC professors are investing in our students’ education, students should be seen as investors, not customers, and should be treated as such.