POINT / COUNTERPOINT: “Should Northwestern Offer Study Abroad in Canada?”
Yes – Our Duty is to Constantly Expand Study Abroad Opportunities
By Professor Ari Silverman
Northwestern attracts a certain sort of student, and I’m not just talking about UChicago rejects. Nor am I talking about refugees from the Chicago suburbs, if you can even call that “living.” I’m talking about the students I see in all of my classes who want to experience the world and everything it has to offer – sometimes without the use of drugs. Given that America is going south fast (by which I mean both going downhill and becoming a macrocosm of the south), there’s never been a better time to study abroad.
The world can be scary, though. Most countries don’t speak the same language as us, let alone offer Netflix access. I’ve had students tell me about getting inoculated against strange diseases that I was pretty sure we wiped out decades ago. Did you know that of the 195 countries recognized by the United States, less than half have a Burger King?
At the moment, students scared of flying or stowing away on cross-ocean cargo ships are limited to South and Latin America. No decent parent will abide their children leaving for Mexico – I’ve seen Breaking Bad and want none of it. And asking Northwestern students to go to South America is like asking Sufjan Stevens to headline Dillo Day – it would make for an amazing man in an amazing place, but he might disappear for 30 years. We need study abroad in Canada.
Northwestern University is a prestigious institution – we’re ranked twelfth in the nation, and that’ll go up next year if the U.S. News and World Report knows what’s good for them. It’s time to offer students the chance to experience a new country without having to experience a new culture, climate, or language. It’s time to move forward, by which I mean upward, but not so much so that we end up in the weird part of Canada with lumberjacks and polar bears.
No – It’s Important for Students to Experience Radically New Viewpoints
By Professor Arthur Butz
While I applaud Professor Silverman’s dedication to securing new experiences for his students, I must admonish him for his skittishness on the same issue. While I’m accustomed by now to Northwestern University not appreciating the need for academic institutions to stretch the limits, it’s upsetting to see this trend extend to our study abroad opportunities.
I know that my own studies abroad were critical in making me into the man I am today: independent, thoughtful, and maybe a bit stubborn. While my colleagues might not always appreciate my unique viewpoints regarding electrical engineering, I’m glad that I learned the value of ideological diversity from my days abroad. If it hadn’t been for all of my contact with foreign scholars during my undergrad years, I might not have developed the Butz Algorithm for which I’m so well known today.
I must further rebuke my colleague for buying into the greatest hoax of the twenty-first century. It’s easy to believe that a land might exist to the north of the United States. There may in fact be partial truth to such claims. However, careful analysis of the issue reveals contradictory presumptions in the hypothesis of “Canada.” How could such a large nation exist so close to our border with an army one twentieth the size of our own and a prominent French population, yet still go unconquered for over two centuries? Absolutely ridiculous.
I will not apologize for my impassioned opinions. Studying abroad is probably the second most important institution at Northwestern, after tenure.