Faculty vs. Students at U of M

I thought the question posed in class as to whether we affiliate with the faculty at University of Michigan or the students in our classes was especially interesting because I had never reflected on the fact that these were two distinct groups and it is inevitable that every student, including myself, identifies with one or the other on some level whether we are aware of it or not. I would have to say that personally my affiliation with one or the other varies depending on the class and professor. Initially coming into a room filled with fellow students I have the attitude that I am a good, hard working student who really wants to learn, and I should be rewarded for this whether or not my peers are on the same page. In this sense I would say I identify with the staff, because I seem to want to put myself above the other students in the class, whether it is true or merely how I preserve myself. I think that this stems from being rewarded in middle school and high school for having this work ethic when other kids seemed to regard grades as meaningless or irrelevant. Therefore, when reflecting, I believe I was taught to side with the faculty out of habit and practice.

On the other hand, when a professor is a particularly hard grader, does not explain assignments well, or has ridiculous tests or teaching methods, I immediately gravitate towards the other side, the students. I am quick to become a part of the masses and submerge myself in conversations about how unfair it all is and how awful the class is as a whole. I no longer want to distinguish myself as one of the “hard workers” because it has no benefit if I am not being rewarded, and it is far easier at that point to change my attitude and level myself with my peers so I can vent and express anger. Misery loves company, and when I am miserable in a course it is usually because of the professor, which hinders my desire to learn the material. Although I am not proud of this fact, I become one of the students who whisper in the back of the lecture or go on Facebook instead of watching the slides and completely distance myself from the faculty.

Obviously, I think that the former scenario serves me better because I get more out of my classes when I affiliate with the professor and hold myself accountable for being a driven and distinguished student. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and sometimes it just feels better to be a part of the group.

3 thoughts to “Faculty vs. Students at U of M”

  1. I tend to do the same thing as you. It really does depend on the class. I tend to align myself with whoever will help me get the most out of the class. If it’s a class that I really like with a great professor who is willing to help, I tend to identify with him or her. It usually never hurts to align yourself with the person who is giving out the grades, and the professors who care often give the best advice to help better your work as well. Since these professors are often well-liked, the other students usually want to impress these professors too, which fosters more of a competitive relationship among the students.

    However, if I am in a class with a professor who could care less about me, I have found that other students can be my best allies when trying to succeed. In these classes, when assignments aren’t clear, or I need help with something, I usually feel more comfortable asking other students for advice. Especially, if they have similar negative feelings about the professor. These types of classes often foster student relationships in a strange way as they are united in an “us versus them” relationship.

  2. I agree in that it largely depends on the class, and more importantly, the class environment. I try my best to go into every class with a positive attitude about how it will play out. In the case of smaller classes, I am usually extremely impressed by the students around me because, as you mentioned, high school discussions could be very painful due to an overall disinterest and motivation to learn the material. When I come into discussions at Michigan; however, the students overwhelmingly seem to care, and that makes me identify with them over the faculty member teaching the class. I align myself with them because it’s easy and it makes me feel good about myself, in all honesty. If I’m in a class full of successful, driven students, of course I’m going to think we all “deserve” to do well if we are putting in 110% every day. Sadly, students don’t always get awarded grades that reflect the effort they put in to the class, and that’s hard to see. On the flip side, there have been a handful of classes where I’ve been flat out embarrassed to be a part of the student population, and I can completely identify with the faculty that are pulling teeth in the front of the classroom trying to get students to give a damn. I’d like to believe that the faculty care about the student’s well being and when that’s apparent, I believe it’s possible to identify with both; however, my loyalty with always first and foremost be with the students.

  3. I agree with what has been said here, especially that it depends on which class it is. When the class is really hard, I feel closer to the other students because we are all suffering together. Misery loves company.

    On the other hand, if the professor is funny, laid back, and chill, I connect with them maybe more than the students. For GSIs, I usually connect more with them, just because of the increased interactions.

    To be honest, most classes are a mixture of relating to both students and professors, just because that is sort of necessary to survive.

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