Matt Carberry (kingpin248) wrote,
Matt Carberry

The Big Red Eclipse - 21 January 2002

Note: This is a running section I'm going to start posting here. It takes its name from the astronomical phenomenon that causes the sun to be blocked temporarily. Just the same, my intent here is to block the Sun (the Daily Sun, that is) by showing how little its columnists really know about the way the world works.

Today we start with Andrea Forker, who gets the new semester going by proposing that we ditch the SAT. Her argument is an typical Leftist diatribe - blacks and other minorities have lower aggregate scores, so obviously the test is biased against them. Forker fails to mention the College Board's contention that the test is uncoachable (though that is a bit of a self-serving argument). I will wager that she didn't pay a tutor one red cent. There is also the little matter of the fact that the College Board did not develop the SAT; that was done in the 1920's by Carl Brigham, a psychology professor at Princeton. But the two major reasons why Forker's proposal is so dangerous are obvious. One, it attempts to inject more affirmative action and more special consideration into the college admissions process. On a day when we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who stood for the greatest of America's ideals, all we get from Forker is a prescription for more division and resentment. And second, it's a clear indicator of where the Left wants to take us (i.e. to the socialist utopia it so loves). Leftists don't want equal rights - they want equal results. And that runs counter to what this country stands for. The SAT is most certainly not the end-all and be-all of collegiate admissions, but it's an important part of the process, and deserves to stick around.

Let's move on to Matt Flahive. Flahive, of course, has slowly moved left since I've been here - if he hadn't, he might still be at the Review. His proposal for shortening winter break actually has some merit to it. Personally, my winter break consisted of a week and a half at home, not doing much, followed by two and a half weeks back here in Ithaca, not doing much other than work. I have to take issue with Flahive's contention that we should get a free winter session course each year. The price of the winter session courses is, however, all the more reason to scuttle the lengthy winter break. The public schools seem to have this one right - one week for the holidays, and that's it. Cornell might need two, because we have to have that five or six day pre-classes period for any number of things, most notably the monstrosity known as "rush." Getting Cornell to take unilateral action on this might be tough. When Mr. Hunter R. Rawlings III was president of the University of Iowa, he threatened to end freshman eligibility for varsity sports (most notably football). This threat led to him being put in his place by both the head football coach and the governor of Iowa. But I digress. A shorter winter break has one additional benefit - it would distinguish Cornell as a place committed to immersing its students in the academic culture. Cornell seems to already be attempting to making such a distinction, with the living-learning environment on West Campus. Keeping students engaged in their classwork (rather than giving them a month to forget everything they learned in the fall) is another logical step in this progression.

I'm not going to waste time with Mary Beth Grant's "Administrative Perspective." All I'm going to say is that any piece with the grammatically hideous headline "Fake IDs Are A Crime" is not worth my words.

And finally, for the editorial. It's great to see the faculty talking about ways to improve the quality of the education. After all, any increase in student satisfaction filters down to the rest of the university in the form of more satisfied (and more generous) alumni, better incoming students, and a better overall reputation for Cornell. But the Sun's contention that "[t]he burden of student satisfaction lies squarely with the professors conducting the lectures" is baseless. Office hours are posted and mentioned in class. Students have just as much of a burden as faculty - they have the responsibility of seeking out professors and teaching assistants when they are having difficulty with their work. The Daily Sun would like to have us believe that it doesn't matter whether a student is a regular or a no-show at office hours and review sessions - his or her satisfaction is not dependent on that variable. I know, from painful experience, that it just isn't true. It's a big part of the reason why 13,000 Cornellians started a new semester of classes today - and I didn't.

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