Student - October 24, 2009

Grumble less, challenge more

Merlin Majoor, philosophy and law student in Utrecht, feels that his peers shouldn't grumble so much.

The message put across in his appeal in the NRC Next is: do your homework and don't come to class half-drunk.
Students have been up in arms (virtually, in these days) against the so-called 'harde knip' and the study loan freeze. They have also been unanimous in saying that contact hours are becoming more of a scarcity, and that course programmes are not challenging enough. All of these are issues which the government and the universities have to improve. Majoor, however, feels that students do not bear enough responsibility themselves. It's the student who needs to challenge the lecturer to provide a good education, and not just the other way round, he says.
This feels a little like a stab in the back. We students are a financially vulnerable lot, highly dependable on political whims. Why should we dent the students' mettle by criticisms directed at ourselves? That's playing into the hands of the less-educated citizen who finds that higher education is nothing more than a useless subsidy sponger, and can now add that even students admit to being lame profiteers themselves.
It's not true to say that this generation lacks ambition. Students who turn up at lectures with a morning hangover are a minority, albeit the most boisterous group at that. Anyway, it's 'cool' to announce that you're all fagged out.
Majoor, however, deserves a hug for his last piece of advice: be critical and harsh towards the Wageningen lecturers so that they would give off their best. This may cost a little of that amiable atmosphere, but that's a small price to pay for first-rate education. / Tom Rijntjes