Posted by Joseph Knippenberg
The great Harvey C. Mansfield, Jr. reviews this book on what some would call the hook-up "culture." The review and the book ought to be required reading for anyone interested in higher education.
Great review of what seems like a worthwhile book. One other possible reason Mansfield doesn't list for the tendency of colleges to look the other way: admissions. At my medium-sized Catholic alma mater, the weekend dedicated to hosting propsective students turns into one long drunken orgy. If Student Life were to tighten the reins, propsective students might hear the sachool is "strict," and want to go elsewhere, thereby losing out on their valuable tuition dollars.
Wouldn't it be refreshing if parents (who, presumably, foot the bills for most of these little darlings) took a more active interest in the proceedings of these recruitment weekends? Wouldn't it be refreshing if parents refused to pay the dowry required to send their daughters off to act like something less than a prostitute? At least with prostitutes the funding is coming in instead of going out. But today we laugh. A father like Billy Ray Cyrus can watch as his 15 year old daughter is exploited by an "artistic" photographer for a Vanity Fair shot . . . we can criticize him for looking the other way for cash . . . but fathers who send off their daughters to places like these colleges with no guard-rails in the hopes that they will get fancy degrees and high powered careers do the same. They are selling off the souls of their daughters because there is no longer any recognition of the fact that fathers are charged with the duty to protect them.
In reading the Mansfield review, I am struck by how dreadful and how sad it all seems. In college, one is supposed to open up bright new vistas and to find the things for which the soul has been yearning as a child but could never fully discover in their limited horizons. In college one has the twin luxuries of freedom and leisure and a university is supposed to offer higher things for the student to contemplate and experience. But these days it offers the activity of a brothel or, worse, a gutter. You don't need to go to college to find this sort of thing. Fathers, save your cash! Send your daughters off to the local dive bar and, if it matters, get her a library card. It's pretty much the same thing. How long before serious people start home schooling (and apprenticing, as in the the old days) for college too?
If the curriculum challenged the students more consistently (dare we hope, eroticly?), and if academic standards were joyfully maintained, students would discover they have too little time for pleasures that can't keep pace with those of the mind. They wouldn't become ascetic, but they would become moderate and responsible because they would be less desperate for a break in the academic boredom. In short, I worry less about what the students are doing than about what the grownups in colleges and universities AREN'T doing.
Write that up and send it to some cranky mag somewhere.
Ditto to comment #4.
It's been done - by Bloom, for example - better than I could possibly do. He foresaw what was to come. Or read Tom Wolfe.
Yeah, I know that Bloom and Wolfe have done it from the stratosphere. But ground level?
I'd been planning to co-teach an Honors Seminar on I Am Charlotte Simmons. Now I'll add this book to the list.
Ashbrook Center at Ashland University | 401 College Avenue | Ashland, Ohio 44805 | (419) 289-5411 | (877) 289-5411 (Toll Free)