My education has been cheapened


Greensboro News and Record

Haydyn Foulke leads a line of protestors down the sidewalk across from Guilford campus.

I am a third-year student at Guilford College. I have gobbled up each opportunity Guilford College has given me: participating in the Multicultural Leaders Scholars Program, the Principled Problem Solving program, starting a women’s empowerment club on campus and being a coordinator for a Bonner site doing tutoring/mentoring with recently arrived refugees. 

Through the mentorship of Christian Matheis and Sonalini Sapra, I have grown confident in my abilities as a scholar. I have learned to read academic jargon, and articulate my thoughts with confidence. I can’t express how the past two and a half years of my Guilford liberal arts education has changed me as a scholar, a leader and a human being. 

As a community and justice studies major, I have been learning pedagogy and skills to become the strongest force of change I can be. I cannot begin to express my gratitude for an educational experience that has allowed academic exploration, a safe community and supportive mentorship. 

Like many others, I have been fantasizing about my graduation day for a long time. I will wear the silly robe and whisper jokes to my friends and peers sitting next to me in the folding chairs set up in our quad. The giant trees will tower above us, creating shade in the hot May day and bouncing sunlight off the windows of the brick buildings around us. I dream of crossing the stage and seeing my pack of relatives cheering for me enthusiastically. 

After the ceremony finishes, my family will get to meet the professors that have changed my life: my family and professors meeting, two of the most prominent forces of my personal development finally together in the same space. Seeing the people I love, who have shaped me in ways large and small, all together in the same space, I will inevitably tear up, the gratitude and pride spilling out of my eyes. 

I will not get this experience. My major was cut, my professors fired and my education cheapened. Guilford’s budget cuts, being played off as COVID’s doing, are caused by decades of financial mismanagement and greed. For decades, top administrators have been making more and more as workers are outsourced and denied benefits, tenured track positions eroded and professors doing more work for less pay. 

The heart and soul of our school, the faculty, staff and workers, have been undervalued and disrespected for decades. The most marginalized voices have been systematically silenced through things like the protest policy. Educational opportunities for those who might otherwise not have it, through programs like the Bonner center, have been gutted.

I believe that education liberates us and we all have a right to an education that teaches us our own power. Since the top administrators seem to think higher education is a business, let me make my voice very clear: cutting faculty and staff is cheapening the value of my education. If I am a consumer at Guilford College, I would like to speak to the manager because the product I was promised, a place of Quaker values and academic freedom, is gone. 

It is with deep grief that I write this piece: it is with great sorrow that I apply to other schools. I have been challenged and nurtured by this place. I have grown and thrived in a community unlike anything I have ever experienced. This is the unmatched value of a liberal arts education. Without political science, history, community and justice studies, philosophy, foreign languages, religious studies, physics and more, Guilford cannot call itself a liberal arts school and it will not get my tuition.