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Students should be held responsible

Observer Viewpoint | Wednesday, March 23, 2005

I’m waiting for my flight to New York. Today I have an interview with a prestigious bank. I should be excited, but I’m not. I keep asking myself the same question: Has Notre Dame really prepared me for this moment? I want to say “yes,” but I can’t.

While the University “prides itself on being an environment of teaching and learning which fosters the development in its students of those disciplined habits of mind, body and spirit which characterize educated, skilled and free human beings,” it fails to promote a learning atmosphere that advances those critical thinking skills necessary for well-rounded and learned individuals.

Sadly, at Notre Dame there is no learning for the sake of learning. The focus of the majority of students is their GPA. In response, professors concentrate on structuring courses around grades rather than discovery. Altogether, the pursuit of knowledge and the growth of the individual have assumed secondary status to preserving the egos of the students of this University.

The people who should be held most responsible for Notre Dame’s failure are the students. Notre Dame is our school. It is our interests that drive the direction of this place. Yet, instead of demanding that the University offer us more, we sit idly. Rather than force the administration to seek out higher quality and challenging professors, we enjoy inflated GPAs, weekends of partying and reject discussions of business in a business class for discussions of the past weekend’s activities.

Professors must bear some of the censure as well. Rarely have I taken a class that forces students to consider an issue beyond what is on the surface. Instead, I constantly encounter exams and papers that emphasize rote memorization and the ability to regurgitate the professor’s opinions.

Finally, the administrators and trustees of this University – who take pride in a homogenous campus – are not free from culpability.

These people continue to place a run-of-the-mill football program at the forefront of an “elite” institution of learning. It is this sad truth, along with all of the other failures that I have mentioned, which forces me to declare that the time has come for someone to stand up and seek change.

So, as those workers brighten the golden Dome, who among us will demand the brightening of Notre Dame’s less-than-golden academic life – you or I?

Broderick Henry


Stanford Hall

March 22