When is a graduation not a graduation?

Apparently CCC held another graduation ceremony this week. An event that perhaps resembles the graduation took place at MX in May.
IMHO, only in name. And perhaps that’s a stretch.

Read about it in this Trib article titled, Warren Buffett, Mayor Emanuel help small business program grads celebrate. It had something to do with the 10,000 small businesses initiative that was started at our college this year (or last-can’t remember). But was it really a “graduation”? I don’t think so and I think we should be concerned about the way this word is getting thrown around by our college, our district, our chancellor, and our mayor. It is a mockery to what our institution values, or should value. Here’s why:

The mayor and the chancellor (these are her city colleges, right?) decided it would be a good idea to provide some “courses” to business men and women of our city. Goldman Sachs provided the start-up capital that would be needed, basically “approving”, or perhaps providing “accreditation” while HWC provide the “classrooms”. Apparently, some faculty had input on the “curriculum”. Now, CCC is moving to “graduate” these “students” from this “program”. Does this sound like an academic program? Sure, when you use academically sounding words as a disguise. Is it an academically sound program? I don’t think so.

First of all, this is nothing more than an investment group looking to manufacture more jobs, which in turn will produce more profits and revenue, from which the investment group will benefit; and when I say benefit, I mean the only way an investment group measures benefit – in quantifiable dollars and more dollars. Quite different than the way academic institutions measure benefit – in the qualitative transformation of lives.

I have nothing against big or small businesses. I see myself as an entrepreneur and capitalist. Without dollars, I can’t pay my bills or start a business project. But I do know how to take off my proverbial capitalist hat when I walk into HWC. I come into our building to educate students, not to market a name or use this building as an extension of my commercial practice. (I highly recommend our mayor and district administrators do the same.)
I am against the way in Goldman Sachs is using our academic institutions as their manufacturing engine. When this happens, it pollutes and dilutes the educational system (which already has its share of problems, but that’s a post for another time and day).

Second of all, this is not a true graduation. These “students” of the small business program are not “graduating” from an “accredited” program. I don’t believe they received degrees providing them with the necessary transfer credit, or academic credentials, to continue their studies at a four-year institutions. But then again I wasn’t required to be at this ceremony, so who knows.
BTW, if these were real credit courses, and these were real students, they’d have walked across the official graduation stage with all the other true graduates in May. (Since when did we start extending privileges to some students and not others?)

As an academic member of CCC, I am a bit insulted by the mayor’s play on words and Goldman Sach’s capitalist game that is playing out before our eyes. GS is doing nothing more than investing capital to produce more capital (and we are their factory). Again, nothing wrong with doing that, I just ask that they do it in their corporate environment and call it what it really is: a capital gains project. These “students” are only a means to a profitable end for one company. These 37 “graduates” are objects with which to barter for future gains. Call them corn, or cattle, but not students. GS has one purpose in mind and one goal disguised very well. (For all I know, GS may be using this “investment” as a tax write-off. Shame on them if that were the case. Shame on us for being accountable accomplices.)

Bottom line: Let these individuals be real students. Let our institution educate our community. Truly educate in the academic and scholarly definition of the word. Don’t fall for corporate cooperation because we’ll sell ourselves short and become the new Union Stockyards of Chicago. Value education. Invest time in our students. Ignore corporate greed. And allow our students the opportunity to truly graduate.

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