In his latest episode of Patriot Act titled Is College Still Worth It?, Hasan Minhaj sheds light on how colleges and students are being affected, not just due to COVID-19.

Colleges and COVID-19

Minhaj says that the pandemic has affected everyone, but America has taken the hardest hit. He believes that young people are the ones who are suffering in a major way. This is because plenty of colleges have been shut in the lockdown, sending students back home to turn their “childhood bedrooms into dorms”. Because they’re at home, students have had to take up online courses offered by their respective schools. That’s not what they paid for. However, their demands for refunds were turned down by colleges. Some students even reported that what they’re learning in college could just as easily be picked up on Coursera for a fraction of their tuition fee.

Professors and people in power

Minhaj also talks about the plight of tenured professors, adjunct professors and teaching assistants. While tenured professors are losing their jobs, adjunct professors are being hired in greater numbers for the same job, but without the benefits received by the former. Teaching assistants constitute a whole other case, given their pitiful salaries and the treatment that they receive from other staff. Minhaj says that instead of paying to have good professors on board, universities are choosing to pay more to their heads, presidents and provosts.

The math behind endowments

Do big, fat university endowments contribute towards your education? Minhaj asks. Each year, colleges use only 5% of their total endowments, with the rest of the amount being “restricted” or “put away for other projects”. Minhaj believes that colleges can use this money to help out low-income students during the pandemic.

A catch-22

The “catch-22” for low-income student groups is that while they cannot afford to go to college, the rules of modern society dictate that they must. Wondering what college will look like in the future, Minhaj goes on to say that college is a business and the student is the customer. And “without meaning to sound like an Indian dad”, he asserts that students absolutely should get what they paid for.

An illuminating watch, this episode is an important one as it deals with the uncertain future faced by students and talented teaching staff.

Creators: Hasan Minhaj, Prashanth Venkataramanujam
Cast: Hasan Minhaj
Streaming on: Netflix

For recaps of previous episodes of Patriot Act, see here.