Ah, controversy. It either draws you in or pushes you away. Yet, controversial subjects often seem to have an element of profundity. For surveyors, the topic of educational requirements often has this effect. To me, however, underlying issues and insights are often revealed when surveyors broach the controversial topic of educational requirements.
In our March issue, we published a short editorial from a junior-level student of Ferris State University. Matthew Mitchell's opinions in this column provoked numerous letters to the editor and much discussion (and controversy) on our message board, www.rpls.com.
Good. I'll admit I've had a few notes directed at me that were less than supportive of my decision to publish the piece. My thought once I had received Mitchell's submittal was to run the piece even though I knew his opinions would spark upset in a percentage of our readers. Why would I do this? Well, how else do professions-and professionals-grow? We don't live in a vaccum. Engaging in conversation and exchanging ideas in consideration of the same purpose can be beneficial to individuals involved in a group. It's basic sociology. Why would we want to have the same conversations over and over, and continually say what the majority wants to hear?
I'm not seeking to start a rebellion by any means. But I would like to coerce you-our readers-into a valuable exchange of perspectives. It's for the profession. It's for you.
The facts that baby boomers are looking to retirement and that attrition is on the upswing have caused some distress in the profession. Who will do the work of the surveyor? Add to this the lack of legislation in some areas-or rather the scattered and varied legislation across the country-and the fact that most surveyors have more work than they can handle, and these are hefty reasons to continue discussion on the direction of the profession.
Sure, you might not agree with Matt. That's expected. But he is one of tomorrow's prospective surveyors. If you don't agree with him, we encourage your rebuttals. Conversely, if you do agree, even partially with him, we encourage your support. The main factor in keeping the exchange valuable and beneficial is to back whichever decision you have with viable, sensible reasons and examples.
It seems to me that the real subject of this so-called educational requirement controversy, or perhaps the foundation of the controversy, is that of professionalism. There are levels of professionalism; you are noble and dedicated to your chosen vocation wholly, partially, or not much at all. As one reader wrote in response to Matt's column: ""Professionalism' does NOT come about by education; nor does it come about solely by experience. Professionalism is not a result of how much we charge for our services, or how little we charge for our services. When a doctor treats a patient for free, does this make him or her less of a professional? When an attorney works for a client pro bono, does this make him or her less of a professional?"¦ A high fee does not guarantee good work, nor does a low fee indicate that the work has been done poorly." He continues: "The education level of the licensee and the cost for their services have little do do with how well the survey was prepared or the professionalism of the licensee who prepared, signed and sealed the final drawings."
What seems to deem one professional is the integrity of that individual, either innate or learned. If you care, you will fare well. If you don't, you risk both the reputation of your own position in the industry and possibly the reputation of the company where you work. And if you represent the profession of surveying negatively, you should be brought to a position of accepting responsibility through your state board and in front of your peers. Those in the profession who witness the practice of such individuals, either directly or indirectly, should honorably report their poor work. We don't want one bad egg to ruin the whole basket!
This profession can, I believe, endure the hardships that may come its way, but only if the individuals involved act and react professionally. I realize this may not happen with everyone on the same page with the same approaches and the same beliefs. After all, when there's an "A,' there's a "B.' But, on the same token, when there's a will, there's a way.