Wednesday, January 28, 2004

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Since the early 1990's, complaints about student disengagement have become common. Rhonda Garelick's contribution ("Career Girls," Op-Ed, Jan. 24) is clarifying, for it reveals just how political this complaint is.

How dare students in her class reject feminism! The outrage, that students in a French class would rather discuss French subjects than sit through left-wing criticism of the president's foreign policy!

Professor Garelick is correct: there is a generation gap. There is a reason campus antiwar protests feature more gray-haired professors than students.

But the generation gap is not a problem to be solved. Students should not be forced to believe what their professors believe, but must be free to explore their own ideas.

Washington, Jan. 24, 2004

To the Editor:

As a current college student, I have sat in many classes over the last three semesters in which professors have deviated from their syllabuses to discuss other issues, most frequently, the war in Iraq.

I can well understand what Rhonda Garelick (Op-Ed, Jan. 24) describes as campus apathy, but I would like to suggest a different reason for it: the students actually like their career plans and are happy with the way our society is structured.

Many of them agree with our government's decision to drive Saddam Hussein from power.

But none of us appreciate it when instead of learning material that we pay dearly to learn, we are forced to listen to a teacher's personal opinions.

Plainview, N.Y., Jan. 24, 2004

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