John Cheney-Lippold, a University of Michigan digital studies professor, refused to write a letter of recommendation for Abigail Ingber (to study abroad in Israel) due to an academic boycott against Israel. Lippold denied Ingber’s request in an email where he explained the boycott was to support Palestinians.
Of course, the university slammed the professor for such a decision, but only after Ingber posted his email all over her Facebook page — which lead to major backlash for the school.
Most unfortunate that young people go to college to learn about the importance of cultural awareness and political freedom, only to find themselves caught in the crossfire of ignorance and bias from the very instructors who are meant to be stellar intellectual examples.
Do as I say…not as I do
College professors are revered as being the book-smart, worldly gods who are granted the opportunity to mold young minds prior to their being forever tainted, once living within society. They are trusted by young individuals who are hungry to learn about a world that exists beyond the university walls.
They are paid a great deal for this task and they are expected to expand the minds of young people…not limit them. The moment Lippold decided not to support Ingber’s request for a recommendation due to his political beliefs, he taught her a great lesson. He showed her that some goals are indeed beyond her control, that people say one thing and do something else, and that there will always be people trying to snatch freedom away from her.
Without thinking, the man hired to show Ingber the world through education instead showed her ignorance and selfishness. Two things she will surely learn once unleashed into society…he didn’t have to show it.
When teaching goes beyond words
It goes without saying that college life doesn’t always entail positivity. There are disappointments in grades undeserved, challenges regarding time management and economics (basically, affording more than roman noodles), and the occasional head-butting with fellow classmates who refuse to leave their own biases at the university doorstep upon entering.
These are to be expected and they serve to prepare naive students for a world that won’t always handle them with a velvet glove. These experiences teach young adults what life is like when they are no longer being taken care of by their parents. This is acceptable because it teaches students how to survive. What can’t fall under this list of acceptability is when you have professors that confirm certain biases with their own bias…their own inability to let go of the very societal beliefs that are currently keeping everyone divided.
College graduates should learn the tools necessary to come out into the world and make it better. This can’t be possible if the world sneaks into the protective realm of college life and taints the student before common day society has a chance. We need the students to learn how to combat such ignorance. Maybe then we all have a chance to see the world shift and take a new direction onto the pathway of hope.