A Thought on @instapundit’s USA Today Editorial

As usual Instapundit is spot on with his editorial in USA today about the beginning of the start of the turning of the tide in the war on college men (of which I am one, admittedly Post-Grad though.) Hopefully this tide goes somewhere beyond Georgia.

It got me thinking though. We tend to attribute this sudden war to feminism run amok, or the overly PC culture. But it can’t just have bubbled up out of nowhere. I wonder if the roots of this sudden war on men go back to something deeper, a backlash of sorts to the hedonistic culture colleges promote in order to sell their housing arrangements.

First a Story. Set about 13 years ago. We’ll call our protagonist T…no..let’s go with S…erg….R. We’ll call him R.

R decides to attend a college in town, but applies for a “Living Learning Community” (LLC) based on community service. He says he’ll commute unless he gets into that group (which is partially based on sharing a dorm space and weekly meetings as well as having classes together.) He does get in, so sets off to live on campus. Over the summer he meets his prospective roommate (to encourage comradery, the group gets its room assignments early.) His roommate is a heavily pierced dude from…FL I think.  This fazes R a bit, but honestly not that much (his coworkers at McD’s probably have more piercings.)

Fast forward to school starting, week 1, roommate spends all week drunk. Week 2, all week drunk. Week 3…you see where this is going. By week 4 the roommate has vomited in the room’s sink while R was in class (roommate being too hungover to attend) then simply wiped it down with a tissue and left (vomit still in the drain and stinking up the room.) By week 6, R wonders if roommate has vomited elsewhere in the room and merely covered it with clothes. It also seems possible roommate is dealing dope out of the room.

R gets fed up, starts getting depressed and otherwise withdrawn. On advice of friends R goes to the Resident Advisor (RA) whom R actually knew from high school to seek help. R shows him the massive stock of booze in the room (which, given the nominal “Zero tolerance, guilt by association” policies on record concern R that he’ll be written up for merely being in the same room.) RA basically blows him off.

Fast forward a bit more to some triggering event which finally causes R to go to the living learning community director and say “enough, either I go, or he goes.” The LLC is actually fed up with roommate at this point too (he hasn’t been doing the agreed upon service projects or attending classes.) They say “we’d much rather have you, we’ll intervene on your behalf with Residence Life.”

ResLife decides the best approach is to call roommate into a meeting and say “R turned you in, we know everything, confess.” R, knowing that roommate can be a mean drunk decides now is the time to be sparse, leaves campus for the weekend and is later told a drunk roommate was stumbling around saying “I’m going to get him for this, he’ll pay for it.”

R refuses to return to room (I would suggest understandably at this point) ResLife refuses to fill out the paperwork for a move insisting on “conflict resolution” instead. Eventually R’s parents threaten action on several fronts, ResLife folds, R moves rooms and becomes a commuter the following year.

By itself this is just a weird, and possibly boring story. But pair it with more evidence and you’ll see a trend emerge:

Same School. Choosing time for the following year’s RAs. R’s friend applies, upstanding guy, eagle scout, easy going, leadership experience, etc. Get’s passed over.

Instead they choose the floor lush. Well known lush I might add. As in, no one reading the application could have not known about the lushiness.  R looks at the other announced choices and notes many of them are well known drinkers (underage I might add.)

A theory begins to emerge. Colleges are, for all intents and purposes businesses. As the Dean said in The Big Bang Theory: “The goal of this institution is to make money!” How do you make money? You sell your customer as much as possible (“upcharging.”) For universities the housing arrangement is the ultimate upcharge option. Captive audience for dining, overpriced accommodations, etc. To get people to buy into this universities have concocted the idea of the college experience. But let’s face it, ultimately colleges don’t have much to offer in terms of this experience by themselves, I can live close to my friends off campus. Or we can hang out at restaurants. We can do what adults do, which is have friends and still go home at night. So to compensate for this lack of an actual experience they create the environment for a hedonistic “paradise” and turn a blind eye to it’s happenings. (See: This American Life: #396 “Party School”).

Ultimately though this hedonistic “paradise” is unfulfilling, as most nihilistic endeavors are. What we’re seeing now is the backlash from this plan. When students (in the case of the sex backlash, it seems to be mostly female students) wake up to the unfulfilling nature of the “college experience” they look for someone to blame. The administration has given them the perfect scapegoat: the men on campus. (Even though those men are just living out the same hedonistic culture the colleges put in place to sell dorm rooms and meal plans.)

You’re seeing a similar yet different tact once people leave college and realize what they were sold was nothing more than 4 extended years of adolescence (i.e. noting useful.) Their ire turns on the lenders, or (rarely) the colleges themselves.

This is how Higher Education dies, not with a “Bang” but with a “Whooo Party!”

One post script: An investigation by the LLC later concluded it was likely that R’s roommate hadn’t applied to the program, but rather his mother did on his behalf, even writing the application essay as a hope that it would straighten the roommate out. His attending college out of state was apparently conditioned on his joining this group. He washed out at the end of the year, even his friends stopped hearing from him. There were rumors of an OD in another state.

Quick Update: Thanks to Instapundit for the generous RT.

9 comments to “A Thought on @instapundit’s USA Today Editorial”
  1. Makes me glad I lived at home for my college experience — treated it a lot like High School (there for class, out otherwise), with admittedly some regrets on not really having many friends from that time-frame, but no drunken paternity suits, either 🙂

    Yup, sad that it is money first, education a distant second (or third, after indoctrination).

  2. And what makes it even more galling is the carefully constructed schedules and requirements that make it almost impossible for students to finish in four years of two semesters each.

    If a school does not offer #students x 15 credits each semester, then somebody is getting screwed.

  3. I went to college in 1981. The college I went to was the number three partying university in the country. Consequently, I never made it past the first semester before dropping out. ( I majored in Party 101.)

    What the college I went to did to curtail the excessive drinking and partying was to close all off campus Fraternities and make them move on campus.

    This college was able to do this because it’s, in a sense, remote from large towns or big cities. Atlanta is 160 miles away and the next largest city, Asheville, is over 50 miles away. And another factor is that there are only 3 main roads out of town. (The cops make a killing with road checks. DAMHIKT)

    I’ve never heard of the problems with feminism that they have at bigger colleges.

  4. Sounds familiar. Dorm at Well-Known-State-University many years ago now, young me entered my new dorm room to find what I believe was pot or hash, with scales, baggies, the lot, sitting on the counter. Went to the RA, he said it wasn’t his problem, no way was he reporting it, but I could move out if I wanted to. Well, I did, but there were no rooms available and I was hours from home, so no possibility to commute. Solution was for me to continue paying rent and sleep on the floor with friends in their dorm room. Drug dealer got his own room.

  5. I would not put anything past colleges these days. I went to Penn State and it was great—party party party. Affordable. RAs mostly looked the other way with drinking. Same with the town police. Fast forward: our daughter graduated another state school a few years ago, and our son is now at Penn State with 2 years to go. Night and day difference from when I went to college. BOTH of them got cited, criminally, for underage drinking in their freshman year by being ratted-out by the RA. In both cases they were not being obnoxious; daughter was drinking a beer in a dorm room one evening with a few other kids—they were trying to be quiet but the RA figured out what was up and called the campus police. Son came back from a frat party and the RA came into the communal bathroom while son was throwing up. RA was apologetic but said he had no choice but to call police and refer son for student discipline. As a result, both universities and both municipalities got many hundred of dollars from us in fines, costs, and drinking education “programs.” In addition, daughter was very ill-used by the town police when she was a legit crime victim (juvenile creeper showed up in her bedroom at 3am) and when her house was temporarily behind police barricades after a news helicopter crashed in the back yard. Yeah, I know—couldn’t wait to have her back home in the big city before some other catastrophe struck. Anyway, the cops were uncaring and super-rude to my polite, reasonable law-enforcement-respecting daughter in both instances. Also, the university advisors gave her affirmatively terrible advice (take Chinese, and a higher-level history course as electives your first semester??) which resulted ultimately in her attending for a 5th year. Our eyes were opened—we came to the sickening realization that the students are viewed by the college and by the town as cattle. Cattle who exist for these institutions to milk of all money possible, instead of the college and town existing to provide services to these students and citizens. It’s just so exploitative and it boils down to a crass wealth and power transfer system, where students and parents are forced to support universities–who then lobby government to increase loans and grants so that MORE money and power can be siphoned away.

  6. You bring up a great point: smaller towns are loving the ability to drive up revenue by citing these people.

    Several schools are just now feeling the backlash after the Penn State Fallout and starting to buckle down, but even that bucking seems to mostly be superficial.
    And let’s not forget that universities employ entire offices of “student life” to find ways to grow the party.

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