Phi Beta Cons

Dorm Residence as Stick, not Carrot

Shock, shock, cried student “partiers.”

It’s “back to the ‘hood’” for many low-income students, predicted one undergraduate direly.
“Overly punitive and counterproductive,” pronounced professors.
Braving such resistance, reports the New York Times, administrators at the Old Westbury campus of the State University of New York recently began to enforce a 1994 “dorm-reward” policy, i.e., students whose grade point average falls below 2.0 will no longer be allowed to reside in the dormitory.
This long-overdue implementation of the 2.0 rule is a relatively small step toward raising academic standards at the campus, which has a history of racial tension, low entrance requirements, and other problems. Enforcing the rule will do nothing to shed light on the educational value added for students while at Old Westbury, the rigor of the campus’s curriculum, the corrosive effect of grade inflation, and the sometimes ineffective and costly remediation administered to many students in an effort to compensate for the solid K-12 preparation of which they were cruelly deprived. And, of course, Old Westbury is not alone in failing to address these larger academic factors, which need to be examined forthrightly nationwide.
Yet even intimations of accountability matter. The campus’s administrators should be commended for trying to stimulate higher academic performance and reminding students that they are not somehow dispensed from hewing to academic standards. To allow students to be lulled by a false sense of achievement is a sure path, for many, “back to the ‘hood.’”


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