When teachers spend class minutes talking about things that aren’t relevant to the course, they’re not only wasting our time, they’re wasting our money, too. According to the school’s website, in-state tuition at GHC is $95 per credit hour. This means it costs students nearly $300 to attend a three-hour class.
I know my professors are real people who have their own lives outside of teaching. I have had several professors over the years that I consider friends, but those friendships were formed outside the classroom. They weren’t formed on other students’ time.
When I sit down in my Monday morning class, after a long weekend of catching up on homework, only to spend the next 15 minutes listening to the professor talk about their personal life, it’s discouraging and disappointing. I find myself thinking about how I could have had an extra 15 minutes of sleep. I find myself thinking about how I am literally paying money to listen to this person talk about themselves.
In those cases, the professor’s oversharing is simply an unwanted distraction. When teachers get political, religious or philosophical, it can become a danger to students’ academic performance and mental health.
Call me overly sensitive, but I think I should be able to attend a class I paid for without having to listen to someone criticize demographics that I and many of their other students belong to.
As a woman, hearing sexist comments in the classroom detracts from my learning experience. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, hearing teachers talk about their personal, homophobic beliefs when they should be lecturing detracts from my learning experience. As a student from a low income, single parent family, being forced to listen to a teacher rant about “Welfare Moms” detracts from my learning experience.
A lot of these comments fall under the category of microaggression, which Merriam-Webster defines as, “a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group.” These professors don’t mean to be hurtful, but they are.
There have been times when I’ve considered dropping a class just so I didn’t have to listen to hurtful comments twice a week. I stayed because I didn’t want a WF on my transcript and because I couldn’t afford to lose the money I was spending on the class. I would sit in class feeling uncomfortable and out of place, and I’d become so stressed out by what the teacher was saying that I wouldn’t be able to focus when they finally started lecturing.
That just isn’t fair. No student should have to choose between feeling comfortable at school and losing hundreds of dollars. No one should have to sit through verbal attacks on their identity just to avoid a penalty on their record.
I don’t want every college professor to turn their classroom and office into a designated safe space. I don’t even want professors to change their views. I just wish they’d keep it to themselves. Those conversations don’t belong in the classroom anyway, and when they do come up they always do more harm than good.