Student assessments of their university professors should be approached with caution, but this week, there’s a rather unfavorable critique emerging about Hillary Clinton, who has been serving as a guest professor at Columbia University.
Over the past year, the former Secretary of State, First Lady, and Democratic Presidential nominee has been teaching a class on “decision making” at Columbia. A student recently expressed disappointment in the course titled “Inside the Situation Room,” taught by Clinton and Columbia Dean Keren YarhiMilo, describing it as lacking. The student, Laalitya Acharya, took to TikTok to share her criticisms in a video posted in December, stating, “I would have really, really hoped that [Clinton] would bring in some more unique insights… rather than her almost basically reciting passages from her book word for word during the lecture.”
Acharya also pointed out that, according to a Fox News report, “Clinton wasn’t relatable to the students,” and there was an evident “feeling of disconnect.”
Expressing her dissatisfaction, Acharya mentioned, “[There was a] kind of a divide between the students and the professors…I’d hoped that over the course of the semester, [Clinton] would start to loosen up a little bit. We’d get to know more about [Clinton] as [an] individua[l] and really be able to have… a professor/student relationship rather than just having [her] talk at us.”
Regretting that Clinton remained distant, Acharya elaborated, “This, however, wasn’t the case, and pretty much for the entire semester, it felt very much like a one-sided speaking engagement where [Clinton and Yarhi-Milo] were just talking at us.”
Acharya highlighted that Clinton didn’t bring up any new examples, instances, or insights beyond what was already in her book or published articles, stating, “And that was definitely frustrating because a big part of why we were in the class was to understand more about decision-making, why people made the decisions that they did.”
Stressing her viewpoint that the class situation deteriorated rather than improved over the semester, Acharya noted, “Usually whenever you start to… get to know [politicians] more on a personal basis, you start to like them a little bit more because they become more humanized. Over the course of the semester, though, I feel like Hillary Clinton became more of a politician than she was at the end.”
Acharya summarized her evaluation of the class by ridiculing the title, “Inside the Situation Room,” indicating that it fell significantly short of its stated objective of teaching students to “think carefully and analytically about how leaders… arrive at their decisions.”
“She was there as a professor to teach, and I wish that she had embraced that role a little bit more,” said Acharya.
Columbia’s class profile states: “Students will be taught how to analyze and understand the complex interplay between individual psychology, domestic politics, public opinion, bureaucracy, the international environment, and other factors which feed into decisions about foreign policy.”