DYSTOPIA–“Students are like footballs, and y’all are the football players,” keynote speaker Rudyard “Red” Neckerson told Dystopia College faculty members at this year’s convocation.
“It’s not just about pass reception,” Neckerson continued. “Yeah, sure, you have to catch the football, but you can’t just catch it and stand there with it. If you want to score, you’ve got to run it down the field or kick it through the goalposts, and that’s what y’all have to do with students.”
Neckerson, author of Git ’em In, Git ‘er Done, Git ’em Out: The Low Road to Higher Graduation Rates, addressed the faculty on the topic of “Minimizing College, Maximizing Graduates.”
“Right now,” he said, “a lot of our students come to college and just get tossed out on the field and just roll around aimlessly until somebody kicks ‘em off.”
For those who don’t like the students-as-footballs simile, another way to look at them is “like the drunken fans who sometimes wander on to the field.” They like to watch the game and think they can play, but in fact “they have no fucking clue how it works” because they haven’t been coached.
So that means faculty and staff members are not just players but also coaches, so they are like player-coaches, and that means they have to play the game themselves but also have to teach the students how to play the game, the game being college, the goal line being graduation, and the extra point, getting that first good job.
Even with talent and good coaching, though, students aren’t going to score if they’re playing with the wrong team on the wrong field. “You don’t send the basketball player out to the soccer pitch, and you don’t throw the swim team out on the basketball court and expect them to do gymnastics.”
If you expect RUTS to get students to DYDD, he said, referring to the college’s Routing Students Through School program and Done Your Degree at Dystopia campaign, “you gotta get the right players on the right field,” and then “you gotta coach ‘em and run ‘em and kick ‘em” until they do what they need to do to score.
Students are also like teenagers–“hell, most freshmen are teenagers”—in that they don’t really want as much freedom as they claim they do. “Just tell ‘em what to take, and they’ll be way happier, regardless of what they tell you,” he said.
And if a student really has chosen the wrong “sport,” he or she can switch, “though hopefully not in mid-season.” He said what colleges really do to a lot of freshmen, though, is “tell ‘em to play ball” without specifying the game, so they don’t know if they’re running or swimming or kicking or throwing shit through hoops.”
T. Allen Culpepper