Pride in our institution?

Welcome back to print versions of Chips, everyone!  As this will be the last opinion piece I write before I graduate, I wanted to discuss something relevant to graduating from Luther: the pride I hold in this institution.  I was prompted to think about this by a future colleague attending an elite private institution who, upon hearing that I went to Luther, asked me if that was my top choice school (hurtful, Danny).  He feels a certain sense of pride in his school because it inspires awe in people.  Luther, with all its merits, does not inspire the same feelings.  

   So do I have pride in Luther?  I’m honestly not sure.  On the one hand, I’ve really enjoyed my time at Luther.  I’ve met so many amazing people, made lifelong friends, and had what I consider to be a truly unique college experience.  I’ve had nothing but positive interactions with professors, the student body is generally quite warm and welcoming, and I even made friends with many different townspeople.  If I could repeat my Luther experience, I would.  

   But on the other hand, I have a lot of grievances with the way things are done around here.  I still struggle deeply with Luther’s pandemic response, which I think was ill-advised and endangered a lot of people, and also seemed to prioritize a lot of different factors over student well-being.  Luther also cut one of my majors halfway through my time here, and laid off/eliminated 27 faculty members, including several awesome professors whom I loved.  The school raises tuition without increasing scholarships every year.  And I have had several interactions with administrators and staff members that make me question their respect both for students and for Luther’s mission, which is to provide the best educational experience possible for students.  

   I’ve loved my experience here, but I am not sure I want my children to attend Luther.  The fact of the matter is that Luther is an institution facing serious challenges in the future, which include fundamental threats to the value of a liberal arts education.  I think that’s such a valuable way to learn and I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn that way, but in the future, the specialization of the workforce makes a generalized education less valuable.  And it feels like more and more people transfer every year.  The college is noticeably different than when I arrived here, and I fear the decline will continue unless something about the business changes.  

    People I know that attended elite colleges are proud of their institution.  I always counted myself lucky that Luther alums seemed to feel the same way, and I’ll feel a certain sort of affection for my time here.  So I will work to make Luther proud of me, and I hope that in the future, Luther will work to make me proud by serving the interests of the student body and putting us first.