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Professors swearing in class: yes or no?

KEEP IT CLASSY IN THE CLASSROOM

Learning is a privilege that is so often forgotten by those attending college. In such a space, it’s paramount for those present to be respectful. Namely professors with their languages.

The opportunity to be in a classroom surrounded by like-minded, motivated individuals is nothing short of a gift. This idea certainly must be recognized first and foremost by professors who have made the conscious decision to dedicate their lives to teaching.

If students can accept the notion that being in a collegiate environment is a privilege, then we need to also accept that people within that space must respect it. Academia has been regarded as the pinnacle of the human experience since Socrates stated, “There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance” back in ancient Greece.

Certainly, there is no greater representation of the importance of learning than the OG himself. One would think professors in any university would uphold the same perception of the importance of education as Socrates did.

Regrettably, this is not the case. Professors will often ignore the privilege of teaching at the collegiate level by swearing in the classroom. While it can be argued that when a professor swears it brings them down to the student’s level to be more relatable, this assertion is simply ridiculous. The classroom is a historically sacred space. It serves as a catalyst for knowledge; a way in which the student can grow to be more informed about their life and in this way, serve society and themselves in a superior manner.

Swearing is a cheap means of dropping a professor down to the level of the student, and is unprofessional to boot. A professor does not need to swear to seem human or relatable; instead they can try to make the class a more open environment for student feedback. Any professor should make sure that their class is as approachable as possible, but that does not excuse the use of profanities.

The university must maintain its status as the pinnacle of the human experience. There is no setting as privileged as the classroom and this fact must be respected. Professors are front and center to this phenonmenon and therefore must be the first people to protect the its integrity.

-Matt Kriese

NO ONE SHOULD GIVE A SHIT

If professors managed to complete their advanced degrees and find jobs in an incredibly competitive industry, they probably have a lot fucking more to offer students than dry, sanitized language.

A person doesn’t have to swear to be engaging, but asking someone to censor themselves in the name of propriety is an archaic practice unsuited for the modern classroom. This goes beyond educators simply being relatable to their students. If professors respect their pupils, they should present themselves as their authentic selves—even if that includes swearing. To do anything else is to position themselves as inherently superior rather than as one member of a collaborative learning system.

Approaching academia with such rigidity is problematic at best. Just because having access to education is currently a privilege doesn’t mean it should be; assigning that access to a certain class of people, to an elevated form of diction, is to claim that universities should continue to be available for the elite alone.

When value is assigned only to standard, formal English leaves a lot of underprivileged people out to dry. English language learners and speakers of nonstandard vernaculars, like Ebonics, might count themselves out from the university before they even apply simply because they’ve been told they don’t speak “correctly.”

In reality, every spoken language evolves every day, and to discount whole classes of people for not adhering to abstract rules of professionalism should not be a tentpole of academia. Many great minds have been lost to a system that prioritizes a traditional presentation of information, like perfect grammar, over innovative thinking and understanding of complex ideas. Knowing when to use apostrophes doesn’t make you smart—and using a curse word does nothing to negate an intellectual base.

Professors swearing in class won’t do the work of dismantling these systems of oppression, but it might help a student understand they don’t have to speak like a founding father to be treated with respect. The American education system should welcome people from all backgrounds and dialects, and diluting our access to certain ranks of words so arbitrarily should be actively discouraged.

-Taylor Kirby

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