Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Student Walkout at Culinary Institute of America

The Culinary Institute of America. [Photo: CIA / Facebook]

(Paula Forbes & recently ran this piece which is direct evidence that no matter what you do, always question what you are being told, especially when it involves your future and your bank account.)

Students at the Culinary Institute of America staged a walkout protest yesterday, with about a fifth of the school's attendees demonstrating. According to the New York Times, they were protesting "a weakening enforcement of educational standards," including perceived lowered standards for admittance and graduation as well as rapid expansion. Students at the protest wore nametags declaring the amount of debt they had accrued going to the CIA; one student who spoke to the Times owes $87,500.

But are academic standards weakening? According to the school's provost, admissions standards, at least, are actually going up. The president of the student government told the Times he finds the protest "childish."
This is not the first time the spirit of revolution has seized the students at the CIA. Back in 2008, students demonstrated against CIA president Tim Ryan, complaining that the school's relationship with corporate food led to students learning institutionalized food preparations and lowered academic standards overall.
Students involved in the protest yesterday told the Times they were trying to preserve the reputation of the school, in order to protect their investment in their education. But is culinary school even worth the massive debt, regardless of academic standards? Eh, people have mixed feelings about that.

*The Supreme Plate - Editors Note: As a former graduate from a major Culinary institution here in the United States, who upon graduation was also handed an outlandish bill for my less than 2 years on campus I understand where these students are coming from. The interest in being a Chef or working in the food industry has blown up beyond what anyone could have predicted, especially those currently working in the field. The problem that Culinary many students are facing (i.e. tuition and the taxation that is applied via Sallie Mae & other lenders, the inability to find a good job after graduation and more) is something that most college graduates are forced to deal with upon completing their “program” of choice. You will hear the usual gripes of “I am now a Chef, I deserve to be making $65,000 a year and running a restaurant by now” or my favorite so far “I really didn’t learn anything that I didn’t already know” but the most alarming of them all is “I have graduated and now I really don’t want to go work in a kitchen” or I just simply refuse to pay dues. What it all boils down too, is the frightening fact that we truly live in a day and age of instant gratification. The majority of the students attending Culinary schools across America are very young in age (18-22) and have no clue what they want to be in life so they jumped at a choice to attend a college aimed at making them the most popular thing to be on TV these days, a Chef. I was speaking with a Chef Instructor of mine recently who had left his position at Le Cordon Bleu and had gone back to working in a restaurant. He was telling me that yes he loved the light hours he worked while being a teacher but that the overall lack of desire and the over crowding of the classes (which can directly be attributed too greed and the overall goal of making money,) drove him right out of a job he truly loved performing day in and out. The commercials make it seem as if you go to school, graduate and become a celebrity overnight, which is far from the truth. As in any career the desire to perform the necessary tasks to help you achieve your goals must be present and with today’s students having little to no desire to hustle up a career, it is frightening to think of who will be manning the helm at our favorite eateries over the next decade or so. I applaud the students who took the risk of walking out of class to prove their point, that in itself could have been grounds for dismissal at an institute as prestigious as CIA, but must ask this question did you truly not listen to what the enrolling agent was telling you about the completion rates, final costs and added interests to your loans would be & finally did you not think to ask around from previous graduates as to what they experienced upon completing such an expensive program?   

1 comment:

  1. As the organizer of the walkout I can assure you the "facts" as misleading. We understood the costs of the school, so that is not the heart of the issue. The heart of it is that we are paying this much money, but what are we getting out of it. With instructors being forced to be more lenient and students being pushed through, our degree that we happily paid for may not mean much to the industry in 15 to 20 years. We want the school to tighten the standards and make kids learn what this industry is all about before going into the field