I can state with very little argument that the university, not just Temple, is first and foremost a business. Like everything else in the modern age, higher education is bound to the power of the “almighty dollar.” This is not an indictment of the system.
One could argue the success of higher education in America is a direct effect of its lack of hesitation to take in and spend money, but that is not the issue today.
The question is, “What then, is the business of the university?” I would hope that with very little or no time taken, one could come to the same conclusion I have. The university is a business, but the business of the university is to educate students.
As a freshman at this university, I watched a film that forever changed my perception of things.
Fritz Lang’s Metropolis is a story of how a great futuristic city was built. Workers spent 10-hour days doing monotonous work. When their shifts were through, they retreated to their homes far below the city. If a worker was injured or killed on the job, work stopped only to replace them and then restarted immediately as if nothing had happened.
This went on until the day one of the elite planners’ sons stumbled upon the workers, only to find what he could only describe as a “strange, alien world”. Left unsettled by what he has seen, the planner’s son rushes to his father and demands to know the truth.
“It is their hands that built the Metropolis,” he pleads to no avail. Lost, but determined, he goes among the workers where he is given some of the most profound advice. The leader of the workers tells him, “Between the hands that toil and the minds that plan, there must be a mediator. That mediator must be the heart.”
Now, with both being made, one would probably wonder what point A has to do with point B. The two are seemingly unrelated. On the contrary, I see the two points as having common ground. Metropolis, much like the university, was a business. Those controlling it were too busy staring out over the grandeur of what they created to remember those who were responsible for giving it to them. Could it be that the same has happened to the university?
Temple University is a school of unimpeachable credentials, but because of whom? It is just as much the hard work of the students and faculty as it is the administration or the support staff or the community that makes Temple what it is.
When I spoke of workers falling on the job, to me it was a metaphor for how every student is reduced to a number, and should that number disappear from the files, no one would even notice. I know this because I’ve been there.
I’ve spent many semesters unable to register for courses I needed because they filled up too fast, unable to access equipment I needed for coursework because there was not enough. I’ve spent whole semesters without required texts for courses because the bookstore didn’t get enough. I think we’ve all been there. Everyone who can relate to one of just the few minor annoyances I’ve mentioned would fall into the category of “those who toiled.”