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Academic Betrayal: The Bullying of a Graduate Student Kindle Edition
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I think of my own graduate school experiences, more than 25 years ago, and even at a wonderful institution I admire, 2 students I knew went through their own versions of this hell. I won't give the details, as the stories are theirs. But I will say that in one instance, as a idealistic graduate student, I spearheaded a petition among my fellow students to support the student being treated poorly. I talked with professors I had good relationships with and received interesting responses. One professor said that perhaps there should not be an (implicit) promise of a degree with admission--the type of attitude that author Mayshark is calling out. But another made a lasting impact on my life by saying, as best I can recall, "Sometimes bad things happen and you mustn't let it make you jaded or bitter". Both students in my stories eventually obtained a degree--perhaps the difference that a cohesive well run department made in checking professors' errors. But these were problems that never should have happened.
Back to the review-- author Mayshark challenges the idea that the suffering and expense a student goes through in the attempt for a degree is not the business of the college or faculty. Enough of my idealism has survived to agree with him. The next part of the discussion is tougher--what is to be done about it? Should accreditation of colleges look more at the experiences of graduate students? Not just how many years to a degree, but whether it was time well spent. Should professor's student evaluations be available to applicants, rather than having to rely on yelp? Should a master's thesis (and PhD dissertation) be considered a journeyman piece, not a masterpiece?
What makes this book worth reading is the introduction of the idea that the system, not the individuals, need to change--but the reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that the discussion is tantalizingly incomplete. Perhaps the answers will develop into a sequel or come from an organization out there that oversees colleges. I hope that this thought provoking book is just the beginning.
After successfully completing his BA in history from Manhattanville College in Westchester, N.Y. Mayshark moved to San Francisco, C.A. and became interested in Latin American people and culture. With a girlfriend, he traveled to South America where he spent 6 months learning and practicing the Spanish language and observing local lifestyles and customs. Mayshark enthusatically decided to improve his employment prospects with a goal of completing a graduate degree, teaching as an adjunct professor in Latin American History-- a PhD in History might have followed.
Following Mayshark’s acceptance at Hunter College, there were many deliberate set-backs and obstacles in the way that blocked what should have been a simple enrollment process to begin classes. As he began his graduate school experience, he would eventually find himself ensnared in an academic “intellectual prison.” Mayshark maintained a 3.6 GPA, his first two theses were outright rejected without concrete reasons or explanations. The reasons for the failure were placed solely on him without further options or recourse by the professor supposedly working with and mentoring him. In addition, Mayshark provided exact documentation with times and dates and other important details that supported his version of the story.
Since Mayshark had already spent tremendous amounts of time and great expense on the degree, he accepted an offer from another professor who declared: “We have failed you.” Mayshark had studied Colonial Latin America with this professor, and was encouraged to try again. Taking no chances for failure, he hired a professional editor before presenting the drafts of his theses, and another professor from a different school checked his work and found it suitable for submission. The closer he got to graduation however, the expectations and rules would change, fees to maintain matriculation continued, and expenses mounted with no degree in sight.
One of the most notable intellectuals in the world Noam Chomsky, observed “How America’s Great University System is Getting Destroyed” (essay) that highlight the corporatization of American higher education, where the focus is not on our students, but rather is a system engineered favoring corporate interests. Later, Mayshark met with Professor Lebowitz, the only adjunct professor at Hunter where he had established a genuine connection, he discovered that Lebowitz along with others, had been forced out of their positions, contracts were not renewed due to political reasons having nothing to do with academics. All calls and email inquiries were ignored by Hunter president Terry Daub.
Mayshark is advocating for more oversight and accountability in higher education for student rights, as he continues to share his shocking story. ~ With thanks to the author via NetGalley for the direct e-copy for the purpose of review.
I recommend this book to anybody who struggled with gaining higher education and to those planning to pursue higher education. A quick easy read that elucidates into life of a graduate student and the failures of a higher education institution. Mayshark really makes the reader question what a student is truly paying for and what they should receive in return from their college. Loren Mayshark is an intelligent individual who was passionately motivated to obtain his MA at Hunter College to become a professor, but was continuously beaten down, discouraged through demeaning and offensive ways, and dealt countless hardships because of Hunter College’s “institutional limitations.” Mayshark’s argument is a necessary topic that MUST be confronted by all interested in academia and the future of education itself!
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The trials that he endured have made him a better person, and I hope that he has found happiness again in his life.Read more