Maharishi University of Management’s creative curriculum includes an experience commonly referred to as Base-Camp, a component of their Science and Technology of Consciousness (STC) course required as the first course for all undergraduates, described on the university’s website as:
This course concludes with a four-day retreat, called Base Camp, in the beautiful Current River wilderness area in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains, for all first-year students and selected faculty and staff. It includes canoeing, hiking, and other activities, and emphasizes cooperation, learning outdoor skills, and having fun. Students entering in January have a winter Base Camp retreat in Iowa featuring skiing and ice skating. Not required for those with family or health concerns.
As the inefficiency of the MUM Department of Admissions had undermined my fall attendance, my four day retreat would involve skiing and ice skating in the peak of winter. Activities such as skiing and ice skating invoke inherent health and safety risks. There are limits and liabilities for students to consider, particularly if married and/or with children. Activities aside, boarding a bus, leaving the state, and returning days later isn’t necessarily conducive to everyone’s domestic modus operandi.
Not to worry, as the four-day retreat is “Not required for those with family or health concerns.” Therefore, I opted out of the Base Camp experience.
Moreover, on the Base Camp webpage, the university further describes “…the option to attend” the four day retreat:
At MUM, all new undergraduates each Fall have the option to attend our “Basecamp” course. It is separated by gender and provides a beautiful outdoor setting for our new students to get to know and bond with each other which builds a foundation for both college and lifetime friendships.
Where Base Camp was once characterized as “Not required for those with family or health concerns.”, we now find that it’s universally “optional” for all students.
Having done my due diligence prior to application, envision my shock on discovery that Base Camp had a component weight of 10% of my Science and Technology of Consciousness (STC) grade. But how was this possible for something that’s described as “not required” or optional?
Because there is a hidden OPTION B not disclosed on the MUM website. Students opting out of Base Camp are assigned 1500-word essays to complete in four days while the students at Base Camp ski and ice skate — argumentum ad consequentiam.
The professor explained how the assignment, like Base Camp, was intended to be “fun”, that it was in no way a device to discourage students from opting out of Base Camp, or punish students who had.
But how many hours might we expect a dilligent student to expend on a 1500-word essay with a four-day deadline? The final week of the class, myself and few students rendered essays in just four days. Brainstorming, drafting, proofreading, editing and so forth.
A six week class, the choice of Base Camp V.S. 1500 Word Essay in the final week at a 10% component weight is counter intuitive from an academic standpoint, and questionable from an ethics standpoint; Fallacy of ambiguity, equivocation in the use of the word “required” and the phrase “have the option to attend”. Such equivocation gives rise to a non-sequitur false dilemma in it’s restriction of the argument to an either/or choice between Base Camp being reqired or not required.
What too is valued at a 10% component weight in the Science and Technology of Consciousness (STC) course is the TM Retreat. I’d opted out of the scheduled men’s TM Retreat durring STC on account that it spanned Valentine’s Day — though I had further questions about the retreat when they referenced dormitories built prior to 1960 and “hot plate” delivery.