Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Education vs. Competition

Emory is rich in diversity and abundant with differences in both opinions and priorities.  There is one goal, however, that all Emory students should have in common: education.  No matter what letters you wear, clubs you join, or places you spend your time, you should not be here if you do not value education.
Yesterday, student groups were giving presentations in one of my classes.  Part of the requirements was a Q&A session, and the professor kindly requested that the audience ask informative, but respectful questions of their peers.  Instead, many of the questions were vicious and obnoxious, setting the presenters up for failure.  A few selfish students ambushed their classmates while they were defenseless; they seized an opportunity to make themselves look smart and their competition look weak.  These selfish individuals attacked their fellow students when they were vulnerable, and that was not in the spirit of the assignment.
This ugly air of competition, however, is most definitely in the spirit of the Business School.  After every test, the weak students walk out crying while the strong ones emerge with villainous grins.  Not a word is spoken between the two.  Likewise, in the library, students study in tiny coalitions—hardly a helping hand is given to the enemy on a project or before an exam.
The blatant disrespect of these students, not only towards each other, but more importantly, towards education, is baffling.  We pay $60,000 a year to learn, yet we do everything in our power to impede others’ learning.  Instead of fighting for A’s, we should be fighting for education.  We’re not savages; we’re students.  We should start acting that way.
I envision a community where question and answer sessions are challenging, rather than intimidating.  I envision a campus where students actively offer their assistance, rather than reluctantly request that of others.  I envision a student body that celebrates dialogue and teamwork, rather than witty remarks and GPA’s.

Don’t get me wrong; I couldn’t be happier that I’m in the Business School.  The coursework is interesting, and the opportunity is endless.  Nevertheless, at times I am embarrassed and even appalled by the constant necessity for competition, and the dizzying disrespect that accompanies it.  In the grand scheme of things, where you lie on the curve is pretty insignificant.  It’s about time the students here figured that out.