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05/19/2020

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Bryce Klein

"Consumption, COVID-19, and the Consequences of Language in Higher Education'' is a short rhetorical post made by Dr. E Michele Ramsey onto her tab labeled "Mere Rhetoric". This essay is focused on the alternate face that higher education holds, and highlights how higher education is regarded as a consumer based society. Students are customers, and colleges / universities are almost like brands. Majors and courses are simply units that "customers" are purchasing. Ramsey's argument is precisely this, higher education is regarded as a consumer good, when it should be a public good. There shouldn't be an imposed "language of business" when it comes to higher education, and getting rid of such a thing would help students see higher education as such, a public good that helps them progress their lives. I am mostly agreeing with this argument, however, I have a different take on how higher education should be handled as a whole. Ramsey is correct, higher education is presented as a consumer product rather than an actual service to the public, and students are influenced with this mindset as well. However, I doubt getting rid of this "language of business" would change that. Students already have to pay ridiculous amounts of money just to secure their future, and most students end up living the rest of their lives in debt. It will always be like this unless people realize that education shouldn't be so crippling, especially when it's not always good.

1. To summarize the quotes that Ramsey collected from students: Students are irritated that they're spending so much money just to get less of what they paid for. They want the ridiculous amounts of money they spent to be reflected, rather than dulled down. She frames these quotes with an introduction of exigence, which is "As colleges and universities moved online...calls for tuition refunds have mounted." to show how students are upset regarding moving online. Other students would likely agree with the students being quoted, as they are suffering from the same thing--not getting what they paid for. Another valuable perspective would likely be from the teachers, who are not suffering as much, but still have to struggle to find ways to appropriately provide a proper education to students.

2. From the various instances of "business language" and "consumption metaphors" that Ramsey critiques, I recognize a few of the terms. One term in particular is "units". I've heard it before because I associate the term units with not bulkier items in stores, but also apartments in some cases. Units are compared to majors / courses, which would also mean this term doubles as "business language" and a "consumption metaphor". The most compelling example would likely be "Students are 'customers'", because that's precisely what they are in this day and age. They have to spend massive amounts of money to get "quality products", aka a good education. It implies students aren't seen as citizens the college needs to serve, but as outlets to sell their goods. This matters because as long as students are this way, education doesn't seem like it'll be improving, and students' lives won't be either.

3. Dr. E Michele Ramsey teaches public speaking, rhetorical theory, and many other skills based on representing gender and race in rhetoric and politics. She's an associate professor at Penn State, Berks as well, which lands her credibility. Ramsey believes that education should not be regarded as a "business language" and should revert back to a public service, and provide students what they pay for. Me and Ramsey both share belief in this, however, a difference I have with her argument is the cost of higher education as a whole. I believe that it should not be as high as it is, due to the fact it cripples most students. Being a student with a poor family myself, I'm not sure how colleges expect us to pay such a hefty debt when we can barely keep a stable living situation. It's ridiculous that everyone is expected to meet their standards. Ramsey's audience is the leaders of higher education. There are various clues that support this throughout her essay. The main giveaway is how she consistently uses "we" and "our" when referring to the people who need to make change. For someone with no context to who Ramsey is, it shows that she is also a part of higher education, and that she and her fellow leaders need to step towards change themselves. Her identity supports her argument as a whole, since not only is she in a credible position to be talking about such an issue in the first place (since she teaches politics, etc.), she herself is on the side of students and sympathizes with them. She acknowledges that "we shouldn't be surprised by this response" when referring to the massive amounts of students suing. She understands their anger. It also changes how her argument is formed, since she's not only addressing it to her fellow leaders, but even herself. It's applicable to everyone in higher education.

4. Alternative frameworks that Ramsey suggests include ones that are based off of utilizing higher education as a public good rather than a consumer good. She wants higher education to mold not only the students into upstanding citizens, but employees as well. If this "business language" is removed from higher education, it will result in a win-win situation for both institutions and the students attending them. I agree with Ramsey, as these frameworks are far more positive and encourage student progress. Gambuto's argument is the fact that humanity (specifically America) has been far too infatuated and busy to address the problems plaguing our country. Along with that, he argues that this pandemic has put these cold truths in the limelight, and is forcing us to recognize these issues--which is simply forcing us to retract to previous solutions, which include pretending all of this never happened so we can feel "normal again". Us as American citizens, and people in general, should take this opportunity to change what normal is rather than blindly revert back. If I could put anything back into my life, it'd be the friends and relationships I lost over time, along with opportunities to improve myself that I left behind. I would try to get rid of any prejudice still present in this country (which obviously isn't realistic whatsoever, but it's good to hope, right?) and any walls that are holding me back from what I'm meant to be. I choose all of these things so that I can improve myself as a person, which might even help others follow a similar path.


Daminica Wells

The article “Students as consumers: E Michele Ramsey on the language of capitalism in higher education”, by Dr. E. Michele Ramsey discusses how colleges are marketed as a business instead of a school. As a linguist Ramsey points out that calling students “consumers” really sells the whole business aspect of colleges. She also quotes many students who believe that they pay a lot of money for an education they aren't receiving. The high priced tuition is being used for luxurious amenities that draw students to the college instead of its educational purposes. Ramsey describes the cause of business equaling college as the period in 2008 when art and humanities were cut from colleges to only promote “successful” paths of life. In the past many disagreed with this thinking and proved it wrong, therefore in 2020 people believe that it is all equal. Education, humanities, and arts are now just a commodity; teachers are employees making a “product” out of students who don’t think it’s worth what they paid. With the spread of covid-19 all those extra things students paid for and aren’t receiving really is coming into question now. We should focus on changing college from a business into a place of learning again.
1. Ramsey presents one of her “they say” arguments in the form of quotes from students. The students' quotes describe how they pay a lot of money to basically sit on their couch. They continue to talk about how the price of college should in fact reflect the realities and should be lowered for what you are getting. Ramsey frames these quotes into her writing by including a brief explanation that schools are being administered online instead of in person. The quotes are then placed one after another to show how many people are feeling the same way and to set the standpoint the article is taking on. Besides students I feel that business owners may feel the same way when it comes to paying for things that aren’t being received. During this time of quarantine many people are stuck at home not being able to work, but their bosses still have to pay them due to the circumstances. Another valuable perspective is one from the colleges. It’s not their fault that the students can’t go to school. It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances, that they have no control over.
2. One of the various examples of business language and consumption metaphors Ramsey used that I recognized was “brands”. Brands is used to refer to an item trademarked by a certain company. Ramsey compared the choice of college to the choice of brands in stores, making it one of the most compelling examples. It’s one of the most compelling metaphors, because it shows the similarities of students purchasing items for the betterment and luxurious items come with just like how they are choosing colleges. The metaphor helps suggest that colleges are being marketed as business. The colleges advertise the amenities and luxuries that come with the purchase of their education, just like if one were to buy a product.
3. Ramsey, aka Dr. E. Michele Ramsey, is a major in linguistics. She is a professor of communication arts and sciences and women’s studies at Penn State University. Ramsey believes that colleges are being marketed as business, with their use of business lingo, instead of as places of education. The major difference in her perspective and my perspective is the fact that I have not yet been to college. She has been to college and understands the debts and opportunities that can be gained from it. I'm only in high school and when I think of college I think of more school, but most importantly every show I have ever watched about college talks about partying and drinking. I think we both can agree that it is not being advertised as a place of education but as something for students to just buy for fun, like any product. Ramsey directed her article to an audience of college administrators. The article is similar to a “what not to do guide” and will give insight to colleges on how to market their school and appeal more to the new generations. Ramsey is mostly known as a professor, therefore she has personally witnessed the problems she is trying to make known and fix.
4. According to Ramsey an alternative framework for colleges to focus on is making students into better citizens not just good employees. I think she is right that focusing on things like soft skills will help better the community. Many people lack soft skills, myself included, if these skills were learned in college along with skills to get a job I think more people would become successful in life. Ramsey cited a work of Gambuto in her article. In his essay he argues that as Americans we tend to focus on ourselves and ignore the effects we have on everything else. This pandemic has stopped us from being so selfish by putting us all in the same situation together; allowing us to open our eyes to major issues within our country. As selfish as it may seem after covid-19 passes I would like to put back all the social skills I have lost. Being alone 24/7 has caused me to ignore people more and keep to myself, I need my social skills back, because it's putting a damper in my relationships. On the other hand I would definitely try to get rid of the thought that I must have money to succeed. We are living with little supplies and money. If I can manage now with luxuries then I don’t need them. I can manage just fine and be successful the way I want to, with or without a lot of money.

Katie Fulmer

1) The arguments declare that students should not have to pay as much tuition as normal because they are not getting the in-person education they paid for. She frames the quotes by providing context of higher learning during COVID-19. Other students and their families dealing with college costs would likely agree with the statements because they are also paying for unideal, at-home education they did not sign up for. Other perspectives that might be valuable to hear are from teachers; it would be interesting if they would agree with getting paid less as they teach from home, even when they are working hard to accommodate the situation and help students to the best of their ability.
2) One term I recognize is “brand”. I have heard it when shopping, watching advertisements, etc. The most compelling metaphor would be “[students] are ‘consumers’”. This is riveting to me because I have never really thought about how many students go to college only because they feel it is necessary to make money in the future, not to enhance their skills and pursue their passions. This phrase suggests that in America college is thought of as just a good to be bought, not an experience to grow and learn from. This matters for students because they are becoming less appreciative of higher education as a way to improve their knowledge and skills.
3) Ramsey is a communication arts and sciences and women’s studies associate professor at Penn State and co-author of Major Decisions: College, Career, and the Case for the Humanities. Her stake in the argument is that her career revolves around teaching and guiding college students; she does not want pupils to believe her teaching is part a commodity that they purchase in hopes of a return in their career but to learn and explore under her. I agree with her that college education should not be viewed as a mere investment to gain a better career in the future but as a way to pursue passions and become a better person. I disagree that talks of lowering tuition during COVID-19 is harmful because this is a time of financial difficulty for many and students cannot learn as well in their homes than in a classroom. Ramsey’s audience is other professors and university leaders; this is evident as she incorporates phrases such as “our students” and “our courses”. Ramsey’s identity and primary audience affect the argument in that there is disapproval of lowering tuition rates during the coronavirus, which many others would not agree with because of extenuating circumstances. This slightly lowers her ability to argue because she does not fully evaluate other sides of the debate.
4) Ramsey describes the alternate framework of higher education as a public good rather than a consumer good. I agree with this because college helps people grow to become upstanding and allows them to discover their talents and passions. Gambuto’s argument is that American people have been too busy to deal with the country’s issues in the past, and during the pandemic citizens should take the time to create a new “normal” by implementing innovative solutions to problems and ways to be productive, successful, etc. After this crisis, I choose to put back a productive school, work, and friend hangout schedule. I will get rid of eating when bored, being excessively lazy, and watching too much television.

Macallister Boatman

“Students as consumers: E Michele Ramsey on the language of capitalism in higher education”, by Dr. E. Michele Ramsey elaborates on how colleges are marketed as a business instead of a school. This essay is focused on the alternate face that higher education holds, and highlights how higher education is regarded as a consumer based society. Students are customers, and universities are almost like brands. Majors and courses are simply units that "customers" are purchasing. Ramsey's argument is precisely this, higher education is regarded as a consumer good, when it should be a public good.

1. The quotes are utilized to great effect to exasperate the issue's the students face when discussing college. She then ties this into her argument that colleges are something a customer purchases because of the name and is not worth the price that it comes at. This ties in nicely with her claim that colleges should be priced at the service you receive, not the notoriety of the college. Besides students I feel that business owners may feel the same way when it comes to paying for things that aren’t being received. During this time of quarantine many people are stuck at home not being able to work, but their bosses still have to pay them due to the circumstances. Another valuable perspective is one from the colleges. It’s not their fault that the students can’t go to school.

2. The use of business jargon is coherent for me due to the context it is used in. One term I recognize is “brand” and "brand name". You hear it all the time in social media and modern fashion. Brands is used to refer to an item trademarked by a certain company. Ramsey compared the choice of college to the choice of brands in stores, making it one of the most compelling examples. This matters for students because they are becoming less appreciative of higher education as a way to improve their knowledge and skills.

3. Dr. E. Michele Ramsey, is a major in linguistics. She is a professor of women’s studies at Penn State University. Ramsey believes that university are being marketed as business, with their use of business jargon, instead of as places of education. She has a first hand experience as she works at a University so her criticism is invaluable as she should be biased towards colleges, not against them. This is similar to my friends beliefs as they unanimously agree college is overpriced.

4. Alternative frameworks that Ramsey suggests include ones that are based off of utilizing higher education as a public good rather than a consumer good. She wants higher education to mold not only the students into upstanding citizens, but employees as well. Gambuto’s argument is that American people have been too busy to deal with the country’s issues in the past, and during the pandemic citizens should take the time to create a new “normal” by implementing innovative solutions to problems and ways to be productive, successful. If I can manage now with luxuries then I don’t need them. I can manage just fine and be successful the way I want to, with or without a lot of money.

Rani Hameid

In Dr. E. Michele Ramsey’s “Consumption, COVID-19, and the Consequences of Language in Higher Education”, Ramsey describes the business language used in universities. The students are often referred to as customers and the colleges are the product. This business image appeared as colleges began to upgrade campuses, attempting to offer a “good life”. As a result of this business image, people are attempting to sue their colleges as they didn’t get the education they paid for. Students are believing this because they aren’t on campus with their pools, and dorms but instead are just getting an education. Ramsey argues that these lawsuits shouldn’t be happening, but it makes sense why they are— since colleges have forced this business language onto them. I agree with Ramsey because if students were told they were only paying for their education, not luxurious dorms, they would be accepting of online education.
1.) In her second paragraph, Ramsey includes quotes from students that explain their frustration as they are going into thousands of dollars of debt just to stay at home every day. They argue that they are not receiving the education that they paid for, but in reality, they aren’t receiving the amenities they paid for. Ramsey includes these quotes to build-up her exigence. She frames these quotes by providing context about what being in college during coronavirus is like. Someone who would agree with these students would be their parents. Some parents even pay for their children to go to college, so they would be infuriated. A more valuable perspective to hear would be a teacher’s, as they are the ones giving the child their education directly.
2.) Ramsey often references “business language” and often refers to students as “customers”. The term “customer” refers to someone purchasing a good, whether it is a necessity or just for fun.
I usually hear this word when someone is referring to a grocery store, clothing store, etc. This example of business language was most compelling to me because it really reveals how these students are really customers paying for a product, rather than students paying for higher education. This suggests that the American education system is extremely flawed as it appears as a business, not a service.
3.) Ramsey is an associate professor, who teaches public speaking, media literacy, rhetorical theory, and many more subjects. She believes that these lawsuits are unreasonable, but the idea of these lawsuits stem from the “business” aspect of universities. If colleges stopped marketing themselves as a product and started advertising themselves as a place for higher knowledge, these lawsuits wouldn’t be happening. Similarly to Ramsey’s thinking, I believe colleges focus far too much on the campus experience— making tuition prices skyrocket. Unlike her, I believe these lawsuits should go through. These students paid the tuition for these amenities, so they deserve to access them—otherwise, it is just for them to demand their money back. Her audience includes college students who are angered from not getting the education they paid for. The inclusion of their opinions in the second paragraph reveals this audience to the reader. Ramsey’s identity affects her argument because it strengthens her credibility. As a teacher, she understands how schools work and she shows little bias since she naturally listens to both the opinions of students and colleges. Her audience makes this argument more powerful as it forces students to rethink the purpose of their college tuition. She also has to be cautious not to use evidence that blames the students for these lawsuits, but instead she blame colleges for leading the students to lawsuits.
4.) Ramsey believes that higher education should be displayed as a public good rather than a consumer good. She believes that universities should not only mold students into good employees but mold them into good citizens. I believe this framework for education is perfect because it displays schools as a place to acquire greater knowledge, rather than an expensive party that leads to a decent job. In Gambuto’s essay, he argues that Americans have many problems that they ignore daily. He argues that since we are on lockdown, we are realizing these problems and the severity of them as we are all isolated and not distracted. After this crisis, I want to get all my friends back into my life. I have been trying to work on my social life for an extremely long time and this pandemic has put a large gap in my progress. I would choose to get rid of my materialistic views and insecurities. Not everything in life is about money, and it is more important to enjoy yourself than to have more money and be sad in life. My insecurities limit my happiness, but I have been working to get rid of them and they are at the point where they do not bother me much at all.

Thomas Demetre

1. The students believe that their tuition when they are staying at home and doing work online should be different from the tuition when they are actually at school. Ramsey uses these quotes to frame her exigence for writing the article. Other people that might agree with these students are other students at home and teachers who think school has become more about money than learning. Other perspectives that might be valuable to hear are teachers and administrators who disagree and companies that fund schools.

2. One term I recognize is the word “consumer”. I hear “consumer” in places where shopping is done, and know it means people who buy a certain product. The most compelling metaphor is probably “students are consumers” because it announces a relationship that many do not connect: the fact that students are just shopping for the right education. This metaphor suggests that college has become more about money instead of learning, and that students are just paying for an experience, not to learn.

3. Ramsey is an associate professor of communication arts and sciences and women’s studies at Penn State. Her job is at stake with her accusations towards the current college state-of-mind. Her perspective is very similar to my perspective of college, and my friends and family would likely agree that colleges are more about money now. Her audience are students and fellow teachers who are currently at home because of COVID-19. She uses relatable evidence and pathos to strengthen her argument and show that there are teachers out there that agree with the students.

4. One alternative framework that Ramsey suggests is that colleges should focus on making higher education a public good rather than a consumer good. I think these frameworks sound like a great idea, but realistically I do not believe the frameworks would last very long or prove to be successful. I think this way because money makes the world go round, and a college can not function and survive in the world today with income. Gambuto's argument is the fact that America and others are ignorant of the problems plaguing their countries. Gambuto also argues that the COVID-19 pandemic has made the truth more aware to the people and now people are being forced to solve these problems as they come into the light. When this crisis is over, I would choose to bring back my sense of action in my community and social life, and I would choose to get rid of judgement against the state of the country. I would want to get rid of my judgements because they only bring people down, and if I want the country to thrive, I have to support my people. I would choose to bring back my sense of action in my community and social life because I have realized that I take many things around me for granted, and want to spend my time showing people how much I appreciate them.

Joshua Pinckney

Summary: In the article “Students as consumers: E Michele Ramsey on the language of capitalism in higher education” Dr. E. Michele Ramsey stresses the public consumption society has towards a college education. Ramsy explains the student's point of view as they feel that the tuition payments are unfair because they are no longer receiving teacher instruction on campus in which the tuition was paid for. As quarantine commences Ramsay wants to use it as an opportunity to change America's view on what college is and why college matters to society, for years colleges, have been viewed as a consumer product to buy a way into a career path. Ramsay views the student's actions to sue colleges to exempt tuition as proof that teachers are not viewed as teachers in society and as products. In the future Ramsay wants the colleges to use language to improve and base itself on the benefit of the students and not themselves.

1. The arguments of the students are that they have paid for on-campus school and demand to be exempt from tuition due to being moved to online school as the actions of this change were unexpected thus the students feel that they are not receiving the schooling that they entered debt and or paid for. The students are now taking legal action and suing colleges to receive refunds as though they are refunding a product. The way Ramsay words the student's words is as though they are claims to an argument that the students feel cheated out of their money for education. Separate from students I believe that the board of education would agree with the argument as the students never expected to be pushed to virtual school when they paid for schooling in the college. The students who primarily take Virtual schooling for higher education would be valuable as they do not spend their schooling on campus or directly interact with teachers, they could distinguish the difference between on-campus school and online school and how they are financially and academically different. For this reason, higher education is viewed as a product and college/Universities are viewed as the business selling the product, this leaves the public to stop viewing colleges as education-based. Ramsay wants to use quarantine as an opportunity to restore college's purpose and reputation in society back to a means of educating students to a future career rather than selling products to a future career.

2. In the multiple metaphors used I quickly recognized "business model" as it means: a method for the operations of a business for its success. I have heard the term "Business model: in many books related to businesses implying that the book's intended purpose is to teach readers how to become successful in the world of business. I find the term "Business model" compelling is because it is a method focused on the benefit of the company and not the consumers. The term "Business model" implies that the students see college as a product that leads them to a successful career and due to distance learning they feel the product has dwindled in value, different from what they paid for. The colleges are now being viewed as scammers who are benefiting from the coronavirus. In this day and age society views business models as schemes for businesses to cheat them out of their money such as selling a product in smaller portions than previously at the same price.

3. Ramsay is an associate professor of communication arts and sciences and women’s studies. Ramsay is making the argument that colleges are behaving like a business selling a product rather than a college providing an education. As a student, I do agree that higher education is now treated as a product in this day and age due to different colleges carrying different forms as public and private, however unlike Ramsay's inference on the college Ramsay's audience is toward school teachers who are impacted by the coronavirus and the effects of distance learning as she mentions "We need to rethink our relationship to our students, who are not and never were our “customers,” and who, whether they realize it or not right now, rely on us to mold them into good citizens, not just good employees" as though the teachers have made a mistake in their role as teachers.

4. Ramsay wants higher education to promote college services to be for the good of the public rather than using the public to serve the college as a consumer good. I think this framework would be helpful to any college student because it would give a higher meaning to college as it is about teaching the student the necessary skills for their career, not paying for their career. In Gambuito's essay, he stresses the ways the world changed due to the coronavirus and how we can help the world change for the better. One thing I would want to bring back into my life post coronavirus pandemic is optimism because it created the drive for me to succeed in life and make efforts inside and outside of school as helped me look beyond statistics and numbers to achieve a goal that otherwise would be deemed difficult or impossible.

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