Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Kizmet, Jun 26, 2015.
Why? Everyone else quit. Maybe you heard about this . . .
I remember Art Keiser telling the story how when he and his mother started what would one day become Keiser University, on the first day they had just one student... and she showed up late. But that's okay, big oak trees come from little acorns.
To me the edgier news is that they had a cohort of seven students last year who withdrew en masse in protest of the program being very different from what they had been led to expect. Hopefully they're doing a better job this time around doing what they say they're going to do so they can go from one to many rather than back to none.
I think this is certainly an embarrassing episode for USC. But I think it's worth noting that we are talking about a relatively small group of people quitting a program in protest.
It's not like the entire 1L class at Harvard Law (560 this year) walked out. Seven people got grumpy over their impression that USC misled them. Maybe they are completely justified and USC needs to drastically alter its MFA (or at least how they market it). Or, maybe there was just one charismatic student who was able to assemble his/her classmates at a Starbucks and convince them to try to make a very public stand.
To me, it's like any other sort of protest. Maybe the protest is really based upon a significant issue that should be addressed and the protest is a great, non-violent way of drawing attention to that issue. Or, maybe some people thought it would be a good excuse for looting or self-promotion. It's difficult to tell what happened here.
Let's also keep in mind that MFA students are, first and foremost, artists. They are going to school to make art and further develop their artistic skill. So if they feel that something impedes their ability to do that I can understand why they would be upset.
They aren't in the same boat as a first year class at Harvard Law. The Harvard Law grads need Harvard Law (or some other law school) to achieve a goal of becoming a lawyer. artists don't need an MFA to succeed in the world of art. The MFA, at best, qualifies them for a very limited number of teaching positions. Teaching may not even fully be the goal of everyone involved in the program. So an MFA student may actually benefit from withdrawing from a program over even a modest slight where a student in a professional program would probably have to endure quite a bit of injustice to walk away. The consequence of walking away for a professional student is simply much, much greater. An artist can, generally speaking, walk away from an MFA program and not actually suffer any career impact in many cases.
So I suppose it comes down to me being able to empathize with both sides in this struggle. I get that the school made changes it felt it needed. I get that the school probably made those changes in good faith and didn't anticipate this level of bad press and student resistance. I also get that if I went to an MFA program with certain expectations (which the school led me to believe were reasonable) only to find out that circumstances had changed, I would be pretty miffed. And if those changes materially changed my opinion of the overall program I might be tempted to leave. And if I felt that these changes hurt my ability to develop as an artist (if I remained in the program) I would probably walk out, maybe just as publicly, as well.
So I'm not going to label the school as "fascist" or the students as "entitled" just yet (and probably never). I hope that this episode has led to improved communication between students and administration and I hope, going forward, USC is able to communicate with potential students in a way that avoids such situations from occurring again.
It still sounds like a good program. It is undoubtedly at a fantastic school. And I'm sure there are artists who would really enjoy the new program.
But what about socialization?
Do MFA students have a spelling bee? :wink:
Separate names with a comma.