Professors make the 70k tuition worth it

Hailey Livingston , Columnist

Illustration by Eli Rodriguez.

At some point over Thanksgiving break, my family brought up The Wire, questioning why I have so many critical things to say about Whitman. My dad told me I need to try to have a positive attitude—I believe his exact words were something along the lines of I need to stop being a “whiny complainer.” In the nature of Thanksgiving family debates, I can’t let him be right, so game on: I’m going to do my best not to complain. 



Well, that’s easier said than done. I sat down and started to brainstorm why the heck am I still at Whitman… what does this god-forsaken place have going for it? I thought about the dining hall: chunky miso soup. Maybe the parties: no, we all just stand outside for a few hours and try not to get assaulted. Admin… not them either—allow me to direct you to the opinion column. So what makes this school worth 70k a year? Our professors.

I love to complain about schoolwork. I love to complain about how hard my classes are and how I have too much to do and no time to do it. Yet, I am still here. I can contribute a huge part of that to my lovely friends, but another part of what makes Whitman the good place it is are the professors that are dedicated to giving students the means we need to succeed. 

That’s why we came here, right? Small class sizes where our professors not only know our names but also care about seeing us thrive. When I toured Whitman, my tour guide told us a story about a professor she had that let her walk her dog during the week when she felt like she needed some dog-time. That’s what won me over; I wanted to have relationships with my professors, not just be an anonymous name in a class of 400 people. 

Not a lot about Whitman (or college in general) is as good as it was made out to be. Not the professors though, they have proven to be the one thing this institution can’t touch. No matter what budget cut the school makes (I’m looking at the financial review last year… hi art programs!), or what new way admin finds to offend its students, professors are here to make sure students are not only doing okay in classes, but also outside of school.

Last year when I was going through all my Title IX adventures, I fell behind in school more than I like to admit. While the Whitman administration was ignoring my parent’s calls and blowing off my meetings, my professors were emailing me just to check in and see how I was doing. I had never reached out to professors until that hard point in my life, and since then I’ve come to realize professors are truly only here to help.

You don’t need to hit rock bottom to ask for help though, and that is the beauty of this school. No professor wants a student here to fail; it’s quite the opposite actually. During my freshman year, I made the rookie mistake of taking Gen Chem. It only took about a month for me to realize I am not a science person, at all, but I couldn’t drop the course. My chemistry professor and I spent a great deal of time together, working through problems together and trying to make anything click in my mind. She never laughed at me, she never doubted my ability to succeed; she was kind and understanding even when she knew I understood nothing that was happening in the course.

Classes here are hard and sometimes it can be really overwhelming, but in my experience professors have wanted nothing more than to be a resource and helpful to students. Even while admin makes mistakes, Whitman professors bounce back and rekindle the environment we’re paying for. 

I’m realizing this article still makes me sound like a whiny complainer and I apologize for that sincerely. Sometimes when Whitman feels too close or too uninvolved, it’s hard to feel appreciative of the good things around. That doesn’t mean there aren’t good things. We have people looking out for us; there’s a group of people aside from your friends that want the best for you.