In order to be as straightforward as possible, I want to acknowledge my biases now.
I was known, and probably am still known, as a teacher’s pet. I fulfill all requirements, I participate in class, I turn everything in on time and I talk to my professors out of class about low grades as I silently sob. I also look up to professors, because I have always looked up to academically successful people. These are parts of my past and parts of me.
I have worked with professors in many different capacities: as professors, as co-researchers, as advisors and as supervisors. In all of their roles, which they’ve really done spectacularly, they have always impressed me with how ingrained they are in their field of study, how humble they are about their successes, and how much more educated they are than me.
I’m particularly impressed with how the professors I interact with on campus are willing to meet me where I am and learn from me, especially with how little I know in the grand scheme of things. They respect my experiences, my understandings and my blooming enlightenment.
I recognize that not everyone feels that same respect on campus, but I think, regardless, we can acknowledge that the professors we have are trying to respect us and our current understandings.
So here it is, Goshen College students. This is where we are. We have professors on this campus who, regardless of the outcome, are trying their hardest to show us respect and meet us where we are. There are professors actively trying. They are on our side, for whatever cause we’re fighting for, and they want us to succeed.
However, in our one to three-and-a-half years of college, we have decided we know more than our masters- and Ph.D.-holding professors. We, in our naivety, believe that our enlightenment is new and somehow not related to all of the professors who have gone before us. However, they have decided to spend their lives doing the work we are just beginning.
We are not giving them the respect they deserve.
We are driving them away.
We are the reason professors do not want to go to class.
We are the reason.
Clichéd as it is, we are all human and therefore all flawed. If one incident makes us ignore the fact that our professors are putting their whole selves into their classes, into our success, then we are ignoring who we are, what we know and what we do not know.
They deserve respect, at the very least because they are trying to continue to work and to do their jobs on a graceless campus. On a campus that shuns their words. On a campus that does not believe in their abilities. On a campus that does not give them room to support us.
As a student who has been short and inconsiderate to my professors before: I am sorry.
As a student who knows it is important for the professors who give the most to continue to be on this campus long after I’m gone: I’m sorry.
As a student who believes in our professors: I’m sorry.
As a student who is disappointed in her fellow students: I am pleading with the first-years, the sophomores and the juniors to step up and respect our professors.
I am asking you, students of Goshen College, to recognize that you have a lot to offer, but so do our professors.