The New York Times runs this story very much worth reading called "Jacuzzi U.? A Battle of Perks to Lure Students." Colleges and universities are spending a great deal of money--often getting into more debt than they should--to make life more pleasant, indeed, luxurious, for their students. They are building lavish student centers, recreation centers with hot tubs and water falls and pool slides, because that’s what the students expect. They want luxuries, say the administrators, and we have to provide it for them in this competative environment, else we lose students. In the meantime, student fees and tuition continue to rise. What does this have to do with those of us who focus on a serious education instead of this hoopla? Well, I think there are plenty of students--and I wager that the numbers are growing--who are more and more interested, perhaps even demand, a real education for their money. We should focus on those students, give them their money’s worth, and
let these matters of luxury be juxtaposed to the real value and purpose of higher education. I do not doubt who will win that argument. Those of us in this sport (I include the real students here) know the difference between the real purpose of education, and it’s material condition. It would make me feel better if there were some administrators quoted in the article who used this great race toward luxury as a means to entice students to come to their college and then teach them something of value. Sure, go ahead and use the jacuzzi, use the climbing wall, hit a couple of golf balls, even get a massage because it might make you more able to wrap your mind around Aristotle or Shakespeare or Madison or physics or chemistry; in short, allow you to contemplate in true comfort the nobility and baseness of human nature. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone said something like that?
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could justly say to a potential student: This place has furnished us with minds and books, and the more we study them the more they talk to us, this is a place of words and more words, a place where we study the cause and why and wherefore in all things. And we dont ignore the beautiful. And it is made comfortable for you so that you might do it in leisure, as did prosperous ladies and gentlemen of long ago. Take advantage of it, or you will regret it.