How the modern university system - with its chancellors and campus police - resembles medieval feudalism
I have a terrible habit that I cannot for the life of me seem to drop. It’s an addiction really, a vice that runs deep. The silver lining is that this form of degeneracy is 100% legal and very much a victimless offense. You see, I like to play with toys. Much of my free time is not actually free, as I have to pencil in my daily dose of playtime.
Recently, I have focused most of my amusement on the medieval times. A classic throwback to the wonder years of childhood, with all its shining armor and fire-breathing dragons, I believe the spark that ignited this historical pilgrimage can be found in a longing for what was. Armed with nothing more than a wooden sword and a restless imagination, I set off with an honorable grit determined to right the wrongs of society, just like the venerable knight errant. Now, in order to fully play the part, mental preparation and passion is required; you cannot simply go through the motions when toys are involved.
Such was what led me to an ultimate conclusion, a realized revelation- the feudal system is not dead but indubitably alive and well. Flourishing, really. If you refute this rationale, then look no further than the present-day university system and more specifically to our own school. Gone are the days of didactic tales scribbled in broken Middle English, granted, but what’s remaining is a set of standards, a fluid conscience that persevered and stood the test of time.
To examine this construct, we must make like feudalism’s tradition of hoarding power and start top-down. The top of the food chain in the feudal society was the King and Queen and their trusted royal family. They forthrightly wheeled the most authority and power over their respective kingdom, owning virtually everything in sight and reaping the rewards of unequivocal covetousness. Second only to these imperial folk are the barons and nobles who remained loyal to the crown through a series of cronyism and collusion. Their aligned interests with that of the king was not by sheer coincidence, but by the grace of keeping their heads unscathed, so a mutually parasitic relationship formed between these two sects.
The next role in feudal society was of the valiant knight, a profession missed by most people as they were nothing more than guns for hire. These medieval mercenaries guarded the properties of gentry and fought the aristocrat’s battles. Lastly, an appropriate word to introduce the second-class citizens they were, were the peasants. This group futilely worked the land owned by high-society, eternally indebted to the tyranny of the kingdom. When their efforts were successful in bearing fruit, it was sent to the higher ups and in return a false pretense of protection was offered.
When examined through the lens of education, the pieces seem to fall into place. Replacing the king and queen is the Chancellor and his array of cohorts, namely the deans of each college. Only an administration autocratic in nature would require classes and the vocation of skills that one need not know given their utter lack of interest in that subject, competing with the major they came to school in the first place to attain. Under the realm of this court is the professors (barons), whose curriculum must fix itself to the rule of law and is offered tenure for their allegiance to the chancellor. They walk a fine line between autonomy and fidelity to the court.
In order for stability over the kingdom requires a great deal of strength and might. For this purpose, the school established a militant police influence to quell the assimilation of student’s beliefs if it is deemed as riotous to the establishment. Just like the knights of old, campus police will not hesitate to enforce the arbitrary order of the schools doctrine. The final mirroring of the past are the students, whose identity can be reflected from the peasants. Forever stuck in a state of constant worrying, studying and abuse, students can only hope to live within commonwealth guidelines, or pay the consequences. Make no mistake about this faction- the elite would not be able to operate and profit it were not for the backs of their labor. Still, they are governed by the system, simpleton subjects to absolute reign.
And as for me, I’m content with being a jester.