When I first heard that my university administrators tried to force students and professors to sacrifice a weekend for some collective cemetery cleaning, I experienced a strong feeling of deja vu. I knew that I’d seen this before somewhere.
And then I realized: this was one of the favorite “educational” activities of Soviet bureaucrats. Soviet academics and students were routinely forced to pick cucumbers, stomp on rotten cabbage (as a way of getting it to pickle), cleaning the streets, etc. They were forced to do it on weekends and even instead of classes.
Now, in the USSR this was done in order to humiliate intellectuals (who were considered the greatest enemy of the proletarian state) and lower the prestige of education.
Today, American college administrators are adopting one Soviet practice after another. I have started sounding like a broken record because whenever I get an email outlining a new university policy, I always exclaim, “This feels just like home!” This isn’t a happy exclamation, you understand, since home was a pretty nasty place.
What do you think the final goal of this Sovietization of American academia is?