The Real Villains of Higher Education: Students and professors can’t be real co-workers until they snatch power back from university administrators.
The system as it exists is set up to the advantage of the litigious and the tattletales, the tyrannical and the petty. Most people involved will agree that it sucks, but trying to change the university from the inside means countless meetings with administrative snakes, not to mention all the career risks. Better to keep your head down and get along, just like those of us in that bad international law class. Only by struggling for and securing institutional power will students and professors — together, scholars — be able to address their conflicts in a way that’s conducive to learning rather than litigation.
One initial step might be strengthening student and professor organization at the department level. The people most capable of addressing a student who’s interfering with class, for example, or a professor giving long diatribes full of sketchy investment advice, are their colleagues. That’s whose judgment they respect in the first place, not some professional bureaucrat’s. Scholars on both sides of the lectern can build up the infrastructure to deal with conflicts internally. Such a scheme would only work if the participants were truly committed, not just using it to cover their asses. But if the alternative is yielding more and more power to administrators, then it might be worth it to be accountable to your co-workers.
...The primary task is prying the tools from the administrative grip. There would still be plenty of work to do afterwards, but I believe the path forward would be much clearer.