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Davidson Honor Code Essay

College is not a “safe place”. College is not supposed to be considerate of students emotions and comfortability. College classes should not tailor around anyone’s personal values.

Colleges are going through an identity crisis. In part due to the financialization and privatization of colleges across the United States but that is for a later article. However, this article is about the intellectual handcuffs that bind professors across the country by colleges everywhere.

On College Campuses now these are the rules:

Professors cannot offend their students. Professors cannot be political or seem to be supportive of a political agenda. The students’ personal feelings matter more to the school than professors' expertise. All of the above is what is hindering political growth in the United States.

This is caused by the modern view of college students as clients and not pupils. Colleges now have to tailor their services (education and enlightenment) to the pockets of their clients (students). Which forms a client/professional relation between student and professor.

A client/professional relation is what someone has with a personal physician or a private lawyer; yes, the professional is the expert but the client has the final say. Unless someone is on the emergency table, a person can refuse the expertise of his or her doctor. This current relationship deteriorates the master and pupil relationship that colleges are supposed to impose.

With this new relationship, professors are forced to play down to their students. Students’ opinions and feelings began to carry a lot more weight than they should. Students’ opinions and personal experiences are now "facts" and students’ views become on the same level as professors’ views. Which is entirely not true Professors and students are not equals. Colleges viewing students as clients creates entitled, egotistic adults, which results in negative consequences for a functioning society.

Colleges do not produce masses of students who can critically think and are open to learning. College produces masses of students who believe their opinions matter more than they actually do. College graduates no longer need to listen to experts because like professors, professional experts are here to advise not dictate.

Which creates a society of ignorant but arrogant people who believe they are entitled to not only have in opinion but also that their opinion should be seriously listened to. Everyone deserves to be able to talk but not everyone’s opinion deserves to be respected. Imagine a society where everyone's opinion matters just as much as everyone else’s.

Now any rational person should be asking: “How do we stop this?”

1. Put the power back into the expert hands at colleges.

Destroy the notion that professors and students are peers. Professors have spent a lifetime studying their subject, students have not. In an emergency room, the person on the medical table opinion does not carry as much weight as the surgeon. So why should college professors’ opinions matter the same as students’.

That does not mean professors should not be held accountable by students. But when personal view is against personal view, the professors should get the benefit of the doubt over the students. That leads to the next point.

2. Bring back controversial conversations

Colleges have censored professors from saying controversial statements in their classrooms. Professors can no longer say anything that offends or make students feel uncomfortable. Professors have to be sensitive or socially conscious about the subject they talk about in their classrooms. Which is an absolutely idiotic notion. Classrooms are supposed to make people feel uncomfortable and to make people think.

These controversial discussions are what causes progression and critical thinking. These conversations are essential for creating functioning citizens and being able to see the opposite views. Professors should play devil’s advocate or say something controversial to challenge students whenever possible. The fact that colleges are robbed of meaningful conversations is exactly why society looks the way it does now.

Conversations that cause discourse or challenges comfortability defines political society now. However, no one wants to have these essential conversations. People do not want to even consider opinions that rival their own. If students are taught that in college that personal values matter more than fact, of course, that thought process will carry over to society. Society needs educated, factual debates to improve. However, adults believe that their emotions and values really matter in the real world. Which leads to the final point.

3. Opinions are never more important than facts

Facts beat everything. No one’s feelings matter more than pure facts. Colleges need to enforce that on campus. The idea that anyone can counter a fact with “I believe” is utter stupidity. This is how society creates adults that think autism and vaccines are linked and that global warming is not real. Colleges need to go back to enforcing that facts reign supreme.

Please, fight to bring back these three rules to college courses in order to protect the future of society

If you enjoyed this article follow me on Twitter @thetruejmj.

Last March, after Davidson lost a first round game of the NCAA tournament to Marquette in the final seconds, our director of media affairs got a note from a man who identified himself simply as Jim: "I am a basketball fan deluxe: I love Minnesota and Duke and Butler -- and yesterday I became a Davidson fan for the rest of my life, too."

"Your coach and all of your players are a credit to sportsmanship," Jim wrote. He went on to celebrate coach Bob McKillop's smile, his behavior on the sidelines, and the adult performance of Davidson's players on and off the court as some of the greatest things in basketball.

Davidson's basketball players are accomplished athletes. They earned Jim's praise on the court that day because they are Davidson students, all of whom live and work in a culture of trust that young people like them have built, generation after generation, since the college was founded in 1837. In sports, trust enables an extraordinary coach to turn talented individuals into a singular team -- one of the greatest things in basketball and a powerful lesson in leadership. On campus, trust cultivates humane instincts, moral courage and generosity of spirit -- essential foundations for a meaningful life in service to something that matters.

A Culture of Trust

Davidson's campus culture can unsettle visitors -- laptops sitting unattended, a $10 bill taped to a tree, and no security in the library? If you visit at the end of each semester, you also see students heading into Chambers Building, our main academic building in the center of campus, where they take self-scheduled exams in any room they want -- no proctors, no timekeepers, no assigned seats. Just some anxiety, and a whole lot of trust.

At the beginning of each academic year, the student honor council leads an Honor Code signing ceremony in which our incoming freshmen promise not to lie, cheat or steal, and not to tolerate such behaviors in others. They join their classmates in signing the pledge, and these signatures line the halls of Chambers. Every day our community sees these signatures, and we strive to live up to the promise they represent. A sacred trust exists among our students, faculty and staff. We hold one another and ourselves accountable; the consequences are serious when we fall short. And, because we know how hard it can be to uphold our highest expectations, Davidson avoids self-righteousness or arrogance. A community built on trust and honesty by definition practices patience, compassion and forgiveness.

Trust has ripple effects. It grants the college community confidence in the words and actions of others, and this confidence creates a heightened sense of connection and mutual obligation that permeates all aspects of campus life. Trust also enriches the widespread collaboration that commonly occurs across disciplines, at every level of college leadership, and between our campus and our community. It deepens the bonds between us and nurtures a sense of responsibility that extends outward, into the societies where our students will live and lead long after graduation.

Most importantly, trust can free our students to see and then to question what they have always taken for granted. Students committed to one religious faith seek out friends from different traditions or no traditions, not to push conversion on others, but to interrogate their own faith. Sophomores who realize their gift is teaching math call home to announce that they are no longer pre-med. A star soccer player stops competing so that he can undertake extensive research in Latin America in preparation for a career in diplomacy and international relations.

Sometimes, one class can make the difference. Before Betsy Gammon, now a senior, took "The Biology of HIV/AIDS," she had not considered a career in health care. That course -- and her courage to trust her choices -- led her to the International AIDS Conference, to an ethics internship at the Mayo Clinic, and to work at an HIV/AIDS clinic in rural Chile, where she redesigned how services were delivered to make them far more accessible, affordable and effective. Betsy is now a global health advocate who is considering medical school.

Trust can leave a powerful legacy. Davidson students educated in a community of trust become graduates unafraid to try what others claim cannot be done. Two examples:

1. When banks assumed that poorer people were a bad credit risk, Martin Eakes ('76) created Self-Help, a credit union that provides fair, responsible loans to those left out of the economic mainstream. Since its founding in 1980, Self-Help has reached out particularly to low-income, low wealth, rural and minority communities, helping to create economic opportunity for all.

2. At a time when many Americans question our investment in public education, Spoken Word Poet Clint Smith <'10), an English teacher at Parkdale High School and recipient of the 2013 Sarbanes Teacher of the Year Award from the Maryland Humanities Council, courageously demonstrates to all of our children that school is the path to a better life.

In his extraordinary 25 years at Davidson, head men's basketball coach McKillop has watched his players -- most famously Stephen Curry now in the NBA -- build on the qualities that he and Davidson nurtured to lead in the world. Bob has followed with equal pride those whose talents and Davidson experience enable them to lead in business, education, finance, medicine and social justice advocacy. Whatever field they choose, Davidson alumni honor the legacy that a culture of trust bequeaths: a life lived courageously and wholeheartedly in service of something that matters.