Change the World From Nowhere Else

When you hear the University’s go-to slogan, “change the world from here,” you may assume it’s just figurative marketing fodder.

But, as it turns out, that slogan is more accurate than you may think.

As many students already know far too well, college is expensive. And even more so in the Bay Area. In order to earn a degree without going into thousands of dollars of debt, one may look into online classes or taking credits closer to home over the summer. It would be much more affordable to knock out a couple of credits at an accredited community college over the break. That way, when you return to USF in the fall, you are a few credits closer to a cap and gown.

However, it does not work that way. The University does not allow students to take core classes, major or minor-required classes, or graduation requirements at another institution. The only exception to these rules is studying abroad. If a student feels they have circumstances necessitating an exception be made for them, they may apply to enroll and take credits at another institution, using the fittingly-named Petition to Enroll at Another Institution (PEAI) form.

Unfortunately, financial hardship is apparently not a valid reason to want to take cheaper classes over the summer. The required PEAI cover sheet says, “Please provide us with your reasons (besides financial ones) as to why you are requesting to take courses at another institution.”

The University seems to disregard the financial needs of its students. “Changing the world from here” should mean that students are industrious, building their mental arsenal by any means necessary. If a student is faced with financial hardships, they should not be shackled to an institution which bars them from using the resources they have.

USF claims to promote an ethos of “cura personalis,” care of the whole person, but apparently, the whole person is only cared for when they are changing the world from USF, nowhere else. Standing on campus, USF will value your holistic education and your pursuit of knowledge for the betterment of yourself and others. But the moment that pursuit takes you two blocks away to the John Adams campus of City College of San Francisco (CCSF), the University no longer cares that you are just trying to learn and advance your degree. It’s USF or nothing.

The technical processes of this vary across institutions. Some are as stringent as USF, while others allow more academic freedom to their students. Washington’s preeminent Jesuit institution, Gonzaga, allows undergraduate students to take summer classes at other institutions with approval from the registrar’s office, so long as they complete their final 30 credits at Gonzaga. At San Francisco State University (SFSU), undergraduate students may “cross-enroll” for credits at any one of six schools making up the San Francisco Consortium: SFSU, CCSF, Golden Gate University, UC Hastings School of Law, UCSF and even USF. We allow outside students to take credits here, but USF won’t allow its own students to go in the other direction.

The University also markets its commitment to diversity, flaunting its rank in the top 10 of U.S. News & World Report’s list of schools for undergraduate ethnic diversity. But it seems to cast aside the merits of the student body’s financial diversity.

This entire year, the Foghorn has been telling stories of USF students struggling to make ends meet. From the need for a food pantry on campus to “Flexi Fairies” to students pushing back against the rise in tuition costs. Many students are struggling to make ends meet, or taking on student loan debt that will follow them for decades. If the University truly cared about education for the whole person, it would not care if that person took calculus at a community college while working a summer job. That scenario seems just as educational in terms of building life skills and real-world experience as taking calculus at USF. With all due respect to the hardworking faculty and staff at USF, this university has not created an environment where students would be “missing out” by taking classes elsewhere.

The same goes for online classes. A university focusing on caring for the whole person, no matter their background, would do anything it could to make sure its students have the resources, academically and financially, to complete their degree and springboard into the real world. Instead, students have withdrawn or simply dropped out, unable to make ends meet. “Change the world from here” is getting in the way of some students being able to change the world at all.

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