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Colleges at the Crossroads

Taking Sides on Contested Issues


Edited By Joseph L. DeVitis and Pietro A. Sasso

Focusing on crucial issues in higher education, this book challenges readers to go beyond taken-for-granted assumptions about America’s colleges and universities and instead critically examine important questions facing them in today’s troubled world. Each chapter presents divergent perspectives, that is, "pro" and "con" views, in the hope of stimulating reasoned dialogue among students, faculty, administrators, and the public at large. Readers will explore how internal factors in the academic community often interact with external social, economic, and political influences to produce conflictual results. They will see that academe is hardly value-neutral and inevitably political. This book urges them to transcend strident political persuasion and instead engage in the careful analysis needed to make colleges better.

The text provides in-depth appraisal of key topics of controversy: the purposes of higher education, liberal education, academic freedom, political correctness, tenure, shared governance, faculty workload, admissions tests, student learning, Greek life, the worth of college, equity and social justice, athletics, student entitlement, technology and distance instruction, and college amenities. The book will appeal to students, faculty, staff, and all those interested in the future of higher education. It is especially useful for courses in contemporary issues in higher education, foundations of higher education, higher education and society, college student development, and the organization and administration of higher education.

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Part Fourteen: Are Today’s College Students Too Entitled?


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Part Fourteen:  Are Today’s College Students Too Entitled?

In “Then and Now: The Relationship Between the College and the Student,” Mark Bauman tracks how the traditional collegian relates to her institution. He traces the historical evolution of this changing association, particularly between student affairs professionals and university life from in loco parentis, to alma mater, to caveat emptor. The notion of “student as consumer” is vividly depicted, especially as neoliberals redefine it as a “caring service,” a bridge between the historical mission of student affairs and student development and what some now call the “entitlement” of today’s college students. Bauman points out that student demands for more amenities and a specific collegiate experience are not new historically. Instead, he contends that it is the brevity with which the university is responding to these demands that has purveyed a sense of entitlement.

In “Are College Students Too Entitled Today? The Role of Customer Service in Meeting Student Needs and Expectations,” Denise L. Davidson and Amy A. Paciej-Woodruff argue that the question of “coddling” students is inappropriate and misguided in changing times (e.g., different student demographics and economic fluctuations) and more pronounced pressures on colleges and universities to operate in more effective ways. They reframe the notion of “customer service” as performance-driven, i.e., providing positive experiences for students, particularly those who have been traditionally underrepresented and underserved. This strategy includes the efficient resolution of complaints, listening to stakeholders, and inviting feedback. The authors are...

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