The current issues I will be considering are the entrenched injustices and oppressive bureaucracy of Brooklyn College.
Though Martin Luther King Jr. discusses injustice within the government, I believe it relates to the injustices I am experiencing firsthand within the institution of Brooklyn College. This is my first semester at Brooklyn College. A transfer student from the University of Vermont, I am not unfamiliar with on-campus activism, as I participated in many activist events when I lived in Burlington. I participated in some rallies here in Brooklyn, however, these rallies were of a different nature: in Vermont, I was rallying for groups such as “Take Back The Night” and other “Occupy” movements. In Brooklyn this semester, I found myself joining activists on campus to protest different injustices, injustices more pertinent to this institution and my experience here, such as tuition hikes, and demanding full access to higher education. My experiences with the bureaucracy at The University of Vermont are eerily similar to those with which I am currently grappling at Brooklyn College. Things are, of course, different here in Brooklyn when compared to Vermont, but in terms of higher institutions, administratively, things seem to be the same. Therefore one question I have that savagely lurks in the underbelly of it all: why have educational institutions become so vulgarly bureaucratic?
I am going to discuss how King’s arguments in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” have relevance to the struggle in which I currently involved regarding my one credit deficit.
Since I began my pursuit of higher knowledge in 2006, I have become jaded. Instead of feeling inspired and excited about the pursuit of knowledge, I feel stuck in a money making machine. These institutions don’t care about me. They care about my money. King writes, “Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but…groups tend to be more immoral than individuals” (Letter, 3). I identify with this notion and find it extremely applicable to the problem/issue I am currently working to rectify.
In the last few weeks, while sorting out my transcript and readying myself for Fall ’12 registration, my advisor found a “little” inconsistency on my credit report. This “glitch” has proven to be a calamitous situation. In January, an advisor told me I was to be exempt from lower tier cores because I had 62 applicable transfer credits. So I, in good faith and trusting my advisor, registered for four upper tier courses. In the four months it took Brooklyn College to evaluate my transcript, they deemed that one class I took at UVM will not transfer over, leaving me with 59 transfer credits – one credit short of exemption from lower tier cores. Presently, the faculty tells me I now have to retake all the lower tier cores – 9 courses, essentially another year in school – because of a simple one credit deficit.
The only way to rectify this situation was to write an appeal letter. In “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” King addressed his letter to his “Dear Fellow Clergymen.” I felt as though my letter should be addressed similarly, perhaps, minus the “dear,” as I am disgusted with the fact that I have to pander to the institutional, university bureaucracy. It is my plea to be exempt from strict, oppressive, bureaucratic policies that have been in place for years, policies that clearly favor the institution over the students. I too feel jailed, a victim of bureaucratic rule,