Caleb’s Corner: The Graduate College is UD’s border wall
Editor in Chief
It’s big, it’s symbolic, it costs a lot of money, there’s no consensus about what it even is and it will do nothing helpful for the population it purports to serve.
No, it’s not Trump’s border wall — it’s the long-prophesied Graduate College, an impressively imaginative construct (and among the first of its kind!) brought to you by the University of Delaware.
This comparison certainly has rhetorical merit, but the parallels are serious. Like Trump’s wall, there has been no stable idea of what this thing is. His tweets employ capitalization to denote the abstract, indicating that the “Wall,” as of now, exists only in a vague, general sense, to be revered in all of its unspecified, tweeted ambiguity.
The Graduate College finds itself in a similar predicament. As I’ve followed the college’s plans over the past couple of years, nobody’s quite been able to tell me what it is, what remote purpose it will serve, other than that it will “centralize” graduate education. Evidently, even those responsible for drafting its bylaws are having difficulty coming up with answers, forced to postpone the college’s Faculty Senate vote until February.
That said, there’s one thing that, from the relevant voices, I’ve heard consistently: that it’s “necessary.” That we “need” a graduate college, as though it serves to address some dire emergency facing the university.
The Wall again proves an instructive analogue. It is established fact that, no, contrary to Donald’s rhetorical fabrications, there is not a crisis at the border. A Wall, as it turns out, would be far less effective than other solutions in securing our border. Yet, this aside, we “need” a Wall. No other choice.
In several respects, though, the Wall makes more sense. Overblown as the Wall is, it provides a very basic, infallibly simple solution to something that, although not occurring in the nature or magnitude that Republicans describe, does occur — illegal immigration.
The Graduate College, meanwhile, is responding to absolutely nothing, other than perhaps a lack of graduate students, which is apparently a problem. In this sense, it is fundamentally different than the Wall — it hopes to attract people within our borders, rather than repel them. But, like the Wall, it has to do with maintaining a certain social composition within our borders, balancing the demographic quantities to ensure maximal profit and opportunity for the right people. (And, I assure you, those people are not students.)
And, of course, both the Wall and the Graduate College have troubled histories. The Wall’s original benefactor — Mexico — did not prove dependable. Now, the Wall finds itself at the center of a government shutdown, desperate for funding and subject to indefinite political feuding.
The Graduate College, too, found its funding suddenly dropped at a most inconvenient time, faced with collecting new funds that, presumably, will need to total up to about $10 million, the size of the original donation.
Both the Wall and the Graduate College, at this point, seem to be far more trouble than they are worth. It would make sense to give up, just abandon the projects. The benefits would far outweigh those of prolonging the current struggles.
But, you see, neither the Wall nor the Graduate College can just disappear like that. Were they to disappear, their biggest advocates would look foolish. If Donald were to back out on the Wall, he would violate a campaign promise, his ego sure to be crippled by Rush Limbaugh’s censure.
Similarly, the Graduate College has been an item high on the Assanis Administration’s agenda since nearly day one. It’s received a spotlight on UDaily, has been the subject of multiple town halls, been mentioned at countless meetings. Scrapping the plan at this point would be tantamount to reputational suicide, an ineradicable blemish and the ultimate “I told you so.”
It would also deprive several people of new, six-figure administrative salaries, and, well, just as Americans are the only ones deserving of life within these borders, these people deserve those salaries!
The parallels between the Graduate College and the Wall are, as a student at this university, painful to enumerate. Something so progressive and innovative, at a place like this so full of good ideas, turns out to be little more that a stupid symbol, possessing no more substance or purpose than Trump’s Wall.
The Graduate College, like the Wall, is a very bad idea. The university had best let the peer review process filter this bad idea out.