No campus. No grades. No inequity. Welcome to Spring Quarter at Stanford University – henceforth known as Cardinal Academy – a virtual university where students receive Khan Academy-style instruction and enjoy total equality with their peers for the bargain price of attending a private college!
Here at Cardinal Academy, we have made the progressive step of abolishing letter grades – a practice riddled with socioeconomic, racial, and gender biases – and replacing them with a universal Satisfactory/No Credit system in order to iron out the inequities between students.
The grading scale, after all, is a remnant of a feudal educational system designed to entrench divisions between social classes. Hiding behind its veneer of meritocracy lies an affluent class rigging the system to stay on top. The rich students, who dress in Patagonia and brunch at Coupa Café, shamelessly attribute their stellar grades and lucrative internships to a “hustle hard” mentality. The truth is, hard work is a social construct they invented to keep the poor down.
The injustice stops here! During this period of disruption, any attempts by students to gain an unfair advantage over their peers – for example, by maximizing their course load or obsessively tweaking their LinkedIn profile– will be deemed exploitative and imperialist. The newly-created Office of Equitable Education will handle such violations and, where necessary, cut down the tall stalks (as the Maoist adage goes).
With so much in flux over the past few weeks, we would like to reassure you that one aspect of university life will remain unaffected: tuition. We made the difficult decision not to adjust our tuition rate to inject some normalcy and continuity into the lives of students, upended by recent events and exhausted by change.
For families who have already invested tens of thousands of dollars into their child’s elite education, they can take comfort in knowing that proceeds that would otherwise go towards paying for in-person instruction, access to the libraries and labs, and recreation and student centers will be redirected towards more equitable causes. For instance, we will be endowing the Susie Brubaker-Cole Memorial Trust, a foundation to support female administrators like Brubaker-Cole who are heckled daily -- solely on the basis of their gender.
III. RESIDENTIAL LIFE
Over here on campus – henceforth known as the Cardinal Commune – we are running a social experiment with a select group of students, who span the extremes of the socio-economic spectrum from rich international students (who attended elite private schools and vacation at luxury ski resorts) to low-income American students (who know no end of personal trauma). By integrating these disparate groups, we can move towards an equitable paradise. A state of harmony where students live and study at ease. No striving over-achievers, no special privileges, no inequity.
In our most ambitious move yet, we have started a massive relocation program across the commune. Exclusionary zoning practices have long blighted campus life, allowing upper-middle class students to live in enclaves on the Row – where they reside in mansions, play beer pong on their manicured lawns, and feast on gourmet food prepared by personal chefs. They segregate themselves from their low-income peers, who are left to anguish in tier-three housing.
To correct this injustice, we have started moving low-income students to fancy accommodation in the Schwab Residential Center (usually home to the Business School students) and banished privileged international students to the jungles of FroSoCo, to bring some long overdue hardship and discomfort into their lives.
Freedom and privileges
Moreover, we have erected a wall around Campus Drive (endearingly named the Cardinal Curtain) to enforce our social distancing policy with the iron fist of equity. No longer will the rich international students be able to flee to Town & Country Village or take trips up to Lake Tahoe. Rumor has it that the rich kids are calling themselves the “international nomads” and “stranded in America.” The wealthy will always find an excuse to whine. Don’t pity them.
Dorm room belongings
While this social experiment is underway, please do not try to return to campus to “reminisce about old times” or “fetch your belongings”. For students who have already left campus, we would like to inform you that the items in your dorm rooms have been collected and disposed of in the nearest dumpster. While this might come as distressing news, such sudden and traumatic events will help you to empathize with the plights of displaced families who have lost all of their possessions. Remember that it is not enough to simply express solidarity with vulnerable groups: you must experience their struggles with them.
IV. COMMUNITY VALUES
Cardinal Academy will be taking other bold steps towards a more equitable learning environment. Students from the top 1% will be paying reparations to marginalized students using their previously-earned A grades. We will also hack into the internet networks of high-income students and sporadically cut off their Wi-Fi, so that they can experience first-hand the traumas of life as a poorly-resourced student. If our Rich White Male allies would like to support this solidarity movement, they can voluntarily self-isolate in an unstable home environment while they carry out their coursework.
Cardinal Academy will not tolerate any enemies to the Equity Movement. Repeated critics will be referred to Zoom counseling with one of our equity therapists who can help you confront your deeper academic insecurities and overcome your status-obsessed neurosis. Our shock therapy has done wonders in pacifying even the most competitive students.
Still, we understand that some of you are angry and feel cheated out of good grades and a graduation ceremony. You argue that Cardinal Academy sacrifices rigor and academic standards in the name of equity. When those selfish instincts surge within you, we ask that you kindly think about your disadvantaged peers languishing in poverty, keep your backwards opinions to yourself, and wash the privilege off your dirty hands.
Twenty seconds and a strong disinfectant should do the trick.
Guardians of Cardinal Academy
MTL and Persis Drell