Control Yuan President Wang Chien-hsien (王建煊) has criticized university students who have to work extra hard by taking a job on the side. He said that they are selling their “golden time” at university on the cheap and that these students are “dead stupid.”
In one fell swoop, Wang seems to have rejected all mainstream opinion. While it is true that some university students skip classes to be able to work, they are in a minority. Without having any hard facts to back him up, Wang observes that it is very common for university students to have a part-time job and draws the conclusion that this is because they have developed a taste for money and that this has led them astray.
Oh dear, it seems Wang has once again gone too far. He describes our youth as money-worshippers while forgetting the thinking he would have had to apply during his stint as minister of finance when analyzing the issue, a major issue in today’s Taiwan: Why do our university students have to take on part-time work and sacrifice their so-called “golden time”?
He then turns the whole issue around and encourages students to apply for student loans. This may look like a well-intended suggestion, but I can’t help wondering if this pious Christian really is so heartless as to suggest that our young leave university weighed down by debt.
In fact, the stupid ones are those who run our universities — how can they tolerate that students at their own schools waste their “golden time” instead of helping raise funds for scholarships?
The stupid ones are the officials who manage higher education — how can they sit idly by and see students “led astray” by “greed” instead of creating an environment that allows them to concentrate on their studies?
The stupid ones are government officials who are preparing to spend a wad of cash on welcoming Chinese students to Taiwan instead of doing their best to eliminate poverty and see to it that the children of us taxpayers do not have to borrow money to be able to go to school.
The stupidest of all, of course, are us parents who, as society is gripped by a disease, do not find a cure and instead confuse cause and effect and blame the next generation.
It is quite obvious that our university students are not the ones who are being stupid, and Wang’s one-dimensional thinking and holier-than-thou attitude are only likely to divert attention from the real issue at hand and might even serve to further widen the generation gap.
This is not just a huge gap between two generations, it is also the gap between the haves and have-nots, the strong and the weak, and those in power and those being pushed around. That is why, as Taiwan is being torn asunder, we do not need one-dimensional moral lectures and rebukes, but cooperation and partners capable of two-way communication, dialogue and building consensus.
Yeh Hai-yen is director of the department of philosophy and religion at Chang Jung Christian University.
TRANSLATED BY PERRY SVENSSON
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