The Obedience to Authority at Universities
Leadership is the art of exercising mandate and considerable power over a given group of people. The majority of the activities or things we engage into in our lives have something to do with order and authority. Without someone to exercise power over a group of people, there are bound to be chaos and disorder. It can be said that with this knowledge in mind, humans have come up with various levels of authority classification in every endeavor involving more than one person (Tierney and Linehan). Whether it is a big group of individuals such as a country or a small one such as a family, there has to be the one who controls the others to ensure the harmonious coexistence. The following essay will pick the example of a university and examine how authority is exerted by those in leadership and the impact it has on those under control.
A System of Authority
A university is usually a very respectable organization in any country in the world. The credit can be attributed to the values that the universities stand for. These include intellectuality, honor, freedom of choice and many others. However, it is imperative to note that a system of authority has to exist in order for things to run smoothly and to maintain a good image for such an establishment. To ensure that people are accountable for the things they do, there must be someone to oversee them. Besides, rules have to made and enforced to guarantee the presence of the sense of direction. It is the role of the university leadership to make sure this is done (Eustace and Moodie).
In many countries, the chief executive officer of a university is the vice chancellor. As the head of the institution, the person who holds that position is involved in its day–to-day running. The job requires an individual who is a good manager of people and other resources, as well as the one who can easily interact with the staff members. It is noteworthy to say that the vice chancellor’s position is one of the most competitive ones available. Therefore, in a free society, it is only the fittest for such a job that gets it. A post such as this one also needs a person who can be entrusted with great responsibilities such as managing a huge amount of finances. At this point, one’s leadership qualities have an important role to play. It is what determines whether an individual will make a good leader or not (Milgram).
Despite being the chief executive officer, the vice chancellor is answerable to a higher body known as the university council. It is the group of people that makes the rules that govern the relationships between various stakeholders in the organization. It is, therefore, right to say that the highest level of authority in a university is the council. The policies regarding all the matters concerning the organization are under the control of this important body. The men and women who are in charge are supposed to be respectable members of the society (Hogg and Knippenberg). They should be people who can be emulated by the students themselves. The council is expected to carry out its duties in accordance to the university statutes. It is aimed at ensuring that order and discharge of duties are never compromised (Eustace and Moodie).
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When one looks at the academic aspects of a university life, she/he sees order in terms of authority classification. There are smaller subdivisions, each with a person in charge in an effort to make the work of managing the establishment easier. Moreover, this also guarantees that not a single aspect of the services that should be offered is left out. The university is divided into faculties, and each of them is headed by a dean. The deans of various schools are the people who make sure that every faculty is operating as expected. Universities are supposed to pool resources together to ensure that the best quality of education is delivered to the students. In many organizations, the faculties include law, medicine, arts, applied sciences, economics, environmental studies and many others (Milgram).
It is within the various departments that students are able to develop skills, and add value to them, and also contribute to the acquisition of more knowledge through research. Proper leadership has to exist at this level since faculties can be said to be the pillars that hold the university in place. It is obvious that the exercise of authority is also important to ensure that students remain on the course. Being guided by those who have passed through a similar system is always a guarantee of a good management.
Another important form of authority that is worth mentioning is the student leaders. They are normally elected by the students among themselves. Some of them sit in the university councils. They also serve to make sure that the grievances of the learners are aired through the right channel to those in the administration. The students’ governing body, just like any other government, has a hierarchy of power. In many cases, the most senior and most official of all the members is the president. Such a stratification emphasizes the importance of authority in any organization.
Students’ leadership in many universities has been directed towards streamlining the university leadership. Learners consider themselves mature which, in true essence, the case is. Undoubtedly, obedience to the authority can only be towards reasonable rules and regulations. The students have adopted a style of reaction which some universities term disobedience. A lot of them under the leadership of their student leaders react to stringent rules and regulations set by the university administration, especially those seeking to curtail their freedom and comfort in their studies and social life. So to speak, disobedience is necessary as it is a word of democracy.
The Discussion of Legal Issues, Cultural Conflicts and Power Struggles
Having talked about those in charge of a university and the reasons for their existence, it is also important to look at the legal issues that arise in the institutions. Being business organizations and existing in a vibrant business environment, legal issues will definitely always arise in such establishments. Most of them are legal persons that have a capacity to enter into contracts. However, since they are inanimate, only those in authority can speak on their behalf. In the past, there were issues of embezzlement of funds by the management. When the auditing had been done, lost finances were traced back to senior people in the authority, and many lawsuits were files.
Other legal wrangles also occur within universities as a battle of supremacy. Sometimes, the duties that are supposed to be discharged by different staff members are not clear. Thus, clashes do occur, and when they do, the courts are normally called to intervene and give a legal interpretation.
Legal issues also arise between universities and their employees. For example, in cases where the remuneration of the workers is not paid in time, they are sued for specific performance. Wrongful expulsion of students is another problem that has brought many legal issues in the establishments. When students engage into strikes, some of them are made to suffer mistakenly. Some of them end up taking legal action, and if the law is on their side, no one can deny them their right.
Cultural conflicts within universities stem from the diversity in terms of race, ethnicity and nationality. With the ongoing integration, people from different backgrounds have found themselves together in the institutions in search of knowledge. Cases of the minorities being ignored while the decision making process are rampant. Even in matters of religion, any minority group feels threatened by the larger one. For example, in Islamic states, Christians may feel at a stake even when the other party means no harm. Sometimes, people have no room to practice what they believe in their culture. In a way, this breeds hatred between individuals due to the conflicting cultures (Tierney and Linehan).
Power struggles in universities are just as common as they are in other organizations. In situations where promotions are to be made, some workers are unjustly left out. When this happens, respect for those who have been put in authority is diminished. At the level of management, such situations occur either due to the duplication of duties or lack of proper policies and guidelines regarding how things should be done. Supremacy battles also make a vital contribution to the struggles. They illustrate the improper exercise of authority, which can be avoided by providing a good framework.
The Issue of Authority and Students
The issue of authority relates to every student in a very fundamental way. In an institution of learning, every decision should be made with the student in mind. It is also expected of them to show respect for authority. Failure to do so would put them at loggerheads with those in charge. The consequences would be devastating since it may lead to the expulsion or suspension which would mean wastage of time. Thus, one needs to recognize the importance of authority in an organization such as a university and understand that proper exercise of power ensures a smooth flow of activities. Avoidance of chaos and promotion of responsible behavior are some of the benefits a student can derive from the efficient management. The cultural conflicts that normally arise between learners due to diversity are rather common; however, they can help to improve the relations among the students in the campus and ensure a harmonious coexistence.
In a nutshell, authority is an important tool in any endeavor of human activity. If those in power are able to exercise it as one should, it brings peace, order and harmony. However, if it is misused, it can lead to conflicts, power struggles and many legal issues. It can, therefore, be referred to as a necessary evil.