The Risks of Partnership in an Academic Setting

Madeline Hare

            When confronted with the course epigraph, I was confused on the message that I was supposed to extract from it. Upon further reflection, I believe that I have decided what it means to me. The course epigraph reads: “If we’re not your animals, if these are adult things, accept the risk. There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner” from Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild”.  To me, this is a message that in partnership, there are risks and rewards involved. The risk in the partnership is making sure there is balance between what each partner gives and takes from the other. The risk here is the if one party does not, it is no longer a partnership, but yet becomes a parasitic relationship or a dictatorship.

            One discussion of this in the class brought forward the idea that we, as college students, are essentially in a partnership with the institution we chose to attend. In exchange for our money, we are expected to be housed (if we so chose), fed, educated, and returned home as scholars with degrees to help us gain our dream jobs, right? That would make the students dependent on the institution, which some could view as an inferior position. Relating this back to the epigraph, if one side of the partnership is unequal that would cause an imbalance. In this case, students are dependent on the institution to provide for them, giving the school a significant amount of power over the students. Another risk recognized in class is that this path is not always the way things could play out upon graduating from college. There is always the possibility to get a job that never required a higher education, causing the degree one obtained to be useless. This is a risk, especially considering the fact that many students these days struggle to pay for their education. In this example, the risk could be wasting time and money. 

            But what are other partnerships we partake in within our college community? Another example could be the relationship between professor and student. To the eye it can seems as though that is a parasitic relationship, the student taking the information with nothing in return to the professor, but that is not what the true partnership is. You are able to find the equal exchange in this partnership. The professor provides the students with information and study resources, and in return the students supply the professor with discussion that has the opportunity to expand wisdom for the professor by providing viewpoints they have never recognized themselves. Yet, everyone knows someone that has had a “bad professor”, and that is exactly the risk here. I know I personally have and have taught an entire semester of chemistry to myself. This is another example of an unequal partnership, that it may not work. In this case, the professor had the power over the student, making it resemble a dictatorship as the professor could be the cause of the student’s failure. 

            One last example of academic partnership I’d like to touch on is the partnership between peers. This is one of the most common, and arguably one of the most important relationships formed on a college campus. There are also many different natures of this relationship, such as classmates, roommates, and friends. When classmates, we expect each other to do the work to be able to contribute to and collaborate with the class. When this expectation is not met, it can stall the learning process for other students, as they are not able to contribute as they should. This becomes parasitic, as these students can begin to take the stances of classmates and treat them as their own.  The partnership with roommates is a lot different when it comes to how personal the relationship can be. When living with someone, most likely there will be agreements about what is and is not allowed to happen with the room. When these agreements are broken, the betrayal becomes a lot more personal, as it is the place that you live. The risk here is no longer feeling comfortable in the living space, and/or ruining the relationship with your roommate. This may not seem like an academic partnership but being in an environment where you are not comfortable alongside someone you are not comfortable can severely hinder performance in school. 

            Personally, I know that my biggest risk when coming to college is the partnership between my peers and I, as I like to spend my free time socializing. With that there is a different kind of risk, rejection. It can be extremely hard for people in a new setting to put themselves out there and meet new people due to the fear of rejection and judgement. Another risk that I touched on earlier that I personally worry about is eventually entering a career that I never needed a degree for. I am worried about this because I will have wasted time, money, and effort that I could have put towards other opportunities. The time and effort are important as I could have used those to develop and advance within my career earlier, and we all know that saving money is a huge dictation in just about everybody’s life in this day and age. My goal from here on out is to be aware of the relationships in my life and make sure they are equal in terms of giving and receiving to each partner. 

            To conclude, my understanding of the epigraph is that the risk in partnerships is the potential imbalance of power. To fix this, make sure that each party included in the partnership is giving and receiving at the same pace to create a balance. This epigraph applies to many partnerships within the campus community, and is now a very important thing for me to be aware of. 

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