(DCWatchdog.com) – In the aftermath of a rather pitiful and lamentable performance as a professor, mocking herself in the process, students at Columbia University have voiced their disappointment with Hillary Clinton’s fall class, describing it as more reminiscent of a late-night talk show audience experience than a traditional college course.
According to the piece penned by student Cate Twining-Ward, expectations were high when enrolling in a class taught by the former Secretary of State and First Lady. However, students reported several grievances about the course.
One of the primary concerns raised by students was Clinton’s apparent lack of direct involvement in the class. Twining-Ward noted that Clinton did not read students’ assignments, participate in discussion sessions, or make herself available during office hours. This absence of engagement left students feeling disconnected from their instructor and the material.
Additionally, students expressed frustration that their questions on controversial topics often went unanswered or were avoided entirely. Topics such as the Israel-Hamas conflict were particularly challenging, and students reported that the discourse surrounding these issues was often neutralized. Instead of receiving answers in the classroom, students were directed to panels and external events for further information.
Twining-Ward’s op-ed painted a picture of a class that felt more like a production than an academic endeavor. A filming crew was present at every session, recording the proceedings, and their equipment teardowns resulted in a loss of valuable class time. Students felt as though they were part of a scripted audience, where laughter at specific anecdotes was expected, and raising hands for questions was discouraged.
One particularly notable aspect of the class was the weekly “Hunger Games Q&A,” where students waited for hours in line for a chance to ask Clinton a question. However, disappointment arose when it was revealed that most questions for the final class would be pre-selected, with one of them being, “What’s your favorite Taylor Swift song and why?”
Despite these criticisms, students did appreciate the opportunity to listen to Clinton’s stories and hear from other guest speakers. However, Twining-Ward and several of her peers expressed their overall disappointment with the class.
In her op-ed, Twining-Ward raised questions about Columbia University’s institutional priorities. She suggested that the university may be using “celebrity professors” like Clinton to turn students into audience members rather than fostering a truly engaging educational experience.
Starting on February 6, 2024, Columbia University plans to make videos of Clinton’s class available through a platform called Columbia Plus. While this move aims to increase accessibility, some students have expressed skepticism, likening it to a streaming service rather than a scholarly resource.
In response to the Huffington Post’s inquiry, Rachel Szala, associate dean for communications and external relations at Columbia, defended the class, stating that there was high demand for it. Szala also noted that Clinton and Professor Keren Yarhi-Milo held open Q&A sessions at the end of each class, with questions not being pre-screened. Szala emphasized the importance of fostering difficult conversations that challenge individual assumptions, a principle that both Clinton and Yarhi-Milo aimed to uphold in their teaching.