Colleges seem to have lost their way. I think about that as I follow the blatant breaking of rules at so many schools – North Carolina! Notre Dame! Syracuse!
But it is not just football and basketball. More and more, college seems to be a highly expensive country club, forcing less affluent students to mortgage their futures for the right diploma, the right contacts (never mind the right education.)
The food services. The pools and health clubs. The exotic “study” programs abroad.
Now we are reminded that colleges can also be a breeding ground for prejudice and arrogance. Fraternity boys and their girls (I deliberately do not use the words “men and women”) at the University of Oklahoma chanting vile (and apparently traditional) doggerel about African-Americans while in formal wear on a chartered bus.
What a caricature of America, no doubt leading to the racist scams of places like Ferguson, Mo.
These privileged fraternity louts and city officials take their cues from the highest court in the land:
“Our country has changed,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote with smug assurance in the 2013 Supreme Court decision gutting the Voting Rights Act.
Fortunately, David L. Boren, president at Oklahoma, came down hard on the punks and punkettes who rode the charter bus. He shut down the fraternity house, which should be razed, just to exorcise the bigotry, and he has ordered two ringleaders expelled. Boren’s righteous anger was appropriate, but there is a broader question:
Why have colleges become a haven for rich boosters to underwrite powerful basketball and football teams that have nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with education?
Yet at the same time, less affluent students cannot keep pace with the tuition and luxuries at the landmark schools? It’s all connected, you know.
In the Times on Monday, Joe Nocera discussed better ways to deliver actual education at a reasonable price. There needs to be a way for qualified students to learn from the best schools and teachers, via the web at times.
Three separate articles and columns in the Times on Monday, all describing higher education out of control. But now it’s time for March Madness, prime athletes shoehorned into “college” for a year – I’m talking about you, Kentucky -- another gross caricature of higher education.
Have a good bracket.
"....the monsters arrive."
"They come in a deafening, surging swarm, blasting from lawn to lawn and filling the air with the stench of gasoline and death. I would call them mechanical locusts, descending upon every patch of gold in the neighborhood the way the grasshoppers of old would arrive, in numbers so great they darkened the sky, to lay bare a cornfield in minutes. But that comparison is unfair to locusts.
"Grasshoppers belong here. Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are invaders, the most maddening of all the maddening, environment-destroying tools of the American lawn-care industry."
---The great Margaret Renkl, from Nashville, one of my favorite NYT bylines, Oct. 26, 2021.
(She describes our Long Island enclave to every decibel, every stink.)
"The day after my 80th birthday, which overflowed with good wishes, surprises and Covid-safe celebrations, I awoke feeling fulfilled and thinking that whatever happens going forward, I’m OK with it. My life has been rewarding, my bucket list is empty, my family is thriving, and if everything ends tomorrow, so be it.
"Not that I expect to do anything to hasten my demise. I will continue to exercise regularly, eat healthfully and strive to minimize stress. But I’m also now taking stock of the many common hallmarks of aging and deciding what I need to reconsider."
--Jane E. Brody, my pal in the NYT newsroom, oh, a few years back, in the Personal Health column, Sept. 13, 2021.