COLUMN:ISU must eradicate the dunderpates

Tim Paluch

I was disappointed, but not surprised, when I heard that most entry-level classes were full, forcing ISU-tuition paying students to cough up another couple hundred low-interest loan dollars and start taking classes at DMACC.

Disappointed because you’d think an administration like ours, one that’s never shy about basking in the glory of its record enrollment, would be able to then provide ample resources for those students. Instead, those students pay $10,000 a year to live in a den with six other freshmen and get to drive to Boone to take Stat 101.

But I wasn’t surprised. Why? Because I knew that eventually the university, forehead-high in budget problems, would get so crowded that consolidating classes into lectures would be the only way to ensure students could take a class they paid to get into.

But hey, in the end, the important thing is enrollment records, right?

The only way to stop this budget-induced problem is to put a stop to the increasing overpopulation of new students at Iowa State. Less students equals more room in entry-level classes. But who doesn’t get in? How about “the less-than-smart” people.

Now I’m not being pompous or labeling anyone as stupid. After all, I’m no Alvin Einstein myself. But average and below average students in high school don’t belong at a university that claims to be on a road toward becoming “the best land grant university in the nation.”

It’s common knowledge that most good high school students go to college and become average students; most average students go to college and become poor students; and most poor students go to college and become DPS Parking Division officers. So why, year after year, does the university allow itself to be put into a situation where high enrollment is causing students to not fit into their classes?

The university administration has to pick a goal. Either let everyone who scored their shoe size on the ACT in and stick them in a lecture hall with 400 other students; or make Iowa State a college that’s not a sure bet to get into, where the application process is more than “Do you like to borrow truckloads of money from the federal government for a nosebleed seat in econ? Check a box.”

When I was in high school, I knew the kind of people who didn’t belong in college. They were the guys with the drug problems, the lack of respect for subject-verb conjugation, and the cool nicknames – like “Boner” and “Axl.” Their knowledge of chemistry and geometry consisted of figuring out that if they added any liquid (usually water) to a rolled-up heap of toilet paper and heaved it at just the right angle across the locker room, it would hit me in the head as I changed out of my gym clothes.

Sure, I’d be mad. And bleeding. And I wanted to unleash my fury, maybe by mouthing off and calling these guys “feebleminded” or “dunderpates,” but then I realized this would probably just confuse ol’ Boner, causing him to jump around convulsively, hurling his feces at me before critically wounding another marching band kid.

So when I came to college I thought life would be different. Boner was out of my life, and I was a wide-eyed eager freshman looking to “become my best.” Mom and Dad were instructed to clear an area on the refrigerator in preparation for the aced calculus and physics tests, soon to be sent home in droves. Life without stupid people was finally laid out in front of me.

That all changed when I met my roommate – a pot fiend with the nickname “Jos‚ Cuervo,” who immediately let me know he would be assuming the alpha male status in our dorm room by pushing me to the floor and repeatedly kicking me in the kidneys and genitals.

Before long I was living on a floor with a cumulative grade point average of 0.2, I was the captain of the intramural champion cups team, dedicating the bulk of my semester to constructing a coffee table made of a stolen Highway 69 sign and empty Smirnoff bottles.

Similar experiences happen to a lot of college students here. Their parents whisk them away to college, where their child spends all their money in two months on beer, forcing them to give plasma so they can afford both books and beer the next semester.

So who do you blame? The student, drunk on his or her own newfound sense of freedom?

No. I blame Jos‚ Cuervo. And Boner. They’re the ones who corrupt the minds of those good high school students. They are the ones who turn an easy “A” into “See me after class.”

But most of all, I blame the administration. For providing an environment where these inebriated bacterium can fester. For making Iowa State an expensive high school where anyone who was allowed to slide by in high school can do the same in college, taking up seats in classes others deserve more. That philosophy will not get us to any “best land grant” plateaus anytime soon. And Iowa State needs to realize that.

Tim Paluch is a junior in journalism and mass communication from Orland Park, Ill. He is opinion editor of the Daily.