The Secret To Being an Adult? Agreeing with William Deresiewicz

Vikram Bath

Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1.

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  1. Doctor Jay
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    says:

    When has cafeteria food of any variety whatsoever been authentic? I mean, they could serve hot dogs that seem a pale imitation of real hot dogs, in my experience?

    So to me, there’s a strange egalitarianism operating: We screw everything up equally. But who knows, maybe the Yale cafeteria is a standout among cafeteria, in that it only messes up banh mi.

    I’m kind of amused that he complains that Yale students are privileged and entitled. That’s exactly how Yale wants them, as far as I can see.

    I am sick to death of the stranglehold that the Ivies hold on our lives. Please understand that I know lots of Ivy League grads, and mostly I like them a lot. I just don’t know why we insist that every Supreme Court Justice must have graduated from an Ivy. This was a huge plus for Amy Coney Barrett with me.

    And the NY magazine scene was so narrowly drawn from the Ivies, too. There are lots of other places.

    I wonder if the sorts of protests the students at these places make isn’t driven in some measure by awareness of their own privilege and guilt over it, understanding that attending an Ivy is participating in oppression.

    As far as I’m concerned, we all participate in oppression. It’s my version of Original Sin. You kind of can’t help it, but you can maybe chip away at it a bit. But guilt and finger pointing don’t really correspond to progress.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Doctor Jay
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      says:

      I remain convinced that Deresiewicz and his ilk don’t actually want progress. They things THEIR WAY. And they are perfectly content to engage in dodgey intellectual misdirection to try and get it. because heaven forbid he pick of a sign or something . . . .Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Doctor Jay
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      says:

      The freakonomics podcast just wrapped up a series on college in the US, and one point that was made time and again was the excessive focus on the Ivies, from all corners.Report

      • Greg In Ak in reply to Oscar Gordon
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        says:

        The obvious solution is to ignore the Ivy’s a lot more. They have no effect on our lives. It’s like obsesses about SF city politics as some avatar for liberals in general. The Ivy’s are convenient punching bag. Just a giant “those darn kids these days” finger waggle.Report

        • InMD in reply to Greg In Ak
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          I’m of two minds. On the one hand, what is going on in state schools, community colleges, technical schools, etc. is way more immediately relevant to way more people. On the other hand as long as the Ivies remain a main gateway to positions of power I don’t think us hoi polloi can totally disregard the values of the people at those institutions.Report

          • Greg In Ak in reply to InMD
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            Yeah i get that part but there are lots of intermediate steps between getting stoned a lot while undergrad at Brown and power. There will always be some schools where the rich send their kids so fussing to much about the Ivy’s is just telling the tide not to rise.

            The other thing is i hear all about how woke and bad regular uni is then i see the same thousands of kids at every college sporting event looking like just like we always did. Kids are the same as ever except general views on LBGTQ/race are changed. What people freak out about the Ivy’s is cherry picking a few incidents while the rest of the uni is just a normal bunch of kids.

            Small story: At mile 13 of the Boston Marathon there is the Wellesley Scream Tunnel. What is that? It’s where hundreds of women from Wellesley, an all women college with very liberal politics, cheers on all the runners of the Marathon with signs, lots of very loud screaming, high fives, hugs and kisses. I saw like 5 women with free kiss signs kissing any runner. They have been doing this for like 50 years. Kids are still kids. Good for them.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to InMD
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            says:

            Chicken & egg

            Do we ignore them at our peril, or do we imperil ourselves by paying too much attention to them?Report

            • Greg In Ak in reply to Oscar Gordon
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              says:

              Paying a lot of attention to young people displaying all the common flaws of young people just lead to endless “kids these days!!!!” screeds. The kids aren’t the issue even if we can get a remotely accurate read on them. And we aren’t in any way getting an accurate read by any of the RW scare stories about how the kids these days just arent’ good like we were.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Greg In Ak
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                says:

                In the end, despite Higher Ed being able to resist market forces for much longer than other institutions, IF the admins at those schools are making mistakes, the brand value of those degrees will slip. And given how hard they work to maintain brand image, they will eventually right the ship (they get plenty of time to do that, after all).

                So we will see.

                Now, IMHO, the attention paid should be less on student antics and more on education quality versus cost. The Ivies excel not so much on quality, but on networking effects, you pay for access to the networks more than anything.

                The fastest way to make the Ivies less relevant is to upset the exclusivity of the networks. Figure that out, and you’ll change the world.Report

              • Greg In Ak in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                says:

                The Ivies excel as research institutions. There is a reason people come from all across the world study at them. There is often a disconnect between teaching undergrads and research/training Phd’s. At the first the Ivies are good but not cosmic. At the second they are great and we want to keep that part.

                The networks are based on reputation and history. Those things change over time based on who knows what.

                Fwiw i went to a generic middle of the road state school but had some teachers who had taught at NYU. They said the smart kids were all the same but the floor was much lower at my generic state school.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Greg In Ak
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                The Ivies excel at research in large part because of network effects. The networks attract the talent, and the grant money (OMG the grant money!).

                Doesn’t hurt that all the Ivies are in the North East, around all the government agencies that award grant money…Report

              • Greg In Ak in reply to Oscar Gordon
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                Yup, but that still means they have excellent research facilities and are world class.

                My BIL/SIL live right outside Boston. There are by conservative estimate umpteen million high tech companies in their area with phd’s all over the place. So yeah there is cluster there and throughout the NE. But Caltech and the UC system exist as well as great research uni’s around the country.

                I’d say college ed would improve if we could split the research and undergrad education functions a bit. Star bio PhD’s don’t teach Bio 101 for good reason.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Greg In Ak
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                Agreed, 9 times out of 10, star researchers also suck at teaching (so do their TAs).Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon
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              says:

              There was a great point that Trumwill made a few years back.

              He said that he reached a point where he heard the argument “nobody is arguing that!” and remembered hearing people argue that sort of thing back in college.

              I know that I have witnessed “nobody is arguing that” evolve into “only students at SLACs are arguing that” evolve into “that’s only happening on Tumblr”.

              What were the bad things that happened because we paid too much attention to them? Maybe we could do a crude utilitarian cost/benefit comparison.Report

              • Greg In Ak in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                One of the fun things about the intertoobz is you can find an example of every single thing you want to see. Tumblr will provide with proof of everything you want to believe about liberals and D’s.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Greg In Ak
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                says:

                Perhaps the only good that will come out of this is that people will stop arguing “Nobody is arguing that!”

                But as soon as someone declares victory…Report

              • Greg In Ak in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Yeah people should stop the “nobody…” . People should also stop ” look this person on tumblr is a jackass therefore the Dem’s are the ( insert insult of the day).
                Or just say we shouldn’t cherry pick data to fit our conclusions.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Greg In Ak
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                People should also stop ” look this person on tumblr is a jackass therefore the Dem’s are the ( insert insult of the day).

                I’m pretty sure that that doesn’t scale.Report

              • Greg In Ak in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                This is a disgraceful slam on all scaled animals. Snakes aren’t out to get you.Report

  2. Philip H
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    says:

    Deresiewicz is merely mad that his grievances are not the only ones.

    The modern GOP is too.Report

  3. Kristin Devine
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    IDK, I personally thought it was well worth reading. Some parts of it are certainly more of the same, if that bothers you, but the thing that I found interesting was the observations about the changing meaning and cost of protest.

    Will has written about rendering an act of protest devoid of personal cost in the past https://ordinary-times.com/2018/04/10/skipping-class-is-skipping-class/ and I wrote about him writing about it here: https://ordinary-times.com/2020/08/16/bombs-for-baby-kittens/

    Because either what is currently defined as “protest” has become devalued in terms of inherent meaning (becoming an act not of rebellion but of adherence with no personal cost; indeed, at some points NOT protesting or not supporting particular protests, is carrying with it more personal cost than joining in), OR it never had inherent meaning and the bulk of the hippies were all just doing it to be cool, which is also entirely possible. https://ordinary-times.com/2019/03/22/beto-appetite-for-destruction/Report

    • Philip H in reply to Kristin Devine
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      says:

      Would you say the folks who protested in Charlottesville in 2017 did so at no personal cost?Report

      • Kristin Devine in reply to Philip H
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        says:

        “Hello Kristin, this is Phillip. I’m calling to inform you that you beat your wife!”Report

      • Chris in reply to Philip H
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        says:

        “Protest devoid of personal cost” is of course a load of poppycock. Between arrests, violence against protestors (including deaths), and political and legal attacks by conservatives, one wonders what sorts of consequences protestors would have to suffer for someone like Kristin to believe they exist.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chris
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          says:

          Some protests are devoid of personal costs. Some, not so much. Grouping all protests as risking personal costs cheapens the ones like Charlottesville, or Portland, where something significant was the target, and where the risk was substantial.Report

          • Chris in reply to Oscar Gordon
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            says:

            This has always been the case though, right? All protests have always had varying levels of risk, depending on where people are protesting and what people are protesting.

            I’d argue that things are actually worse now, because there’s a high level of uncertainty with protests: will the cops intervene (and, as always, violently)? Will there be violent counter protestors, or lone gunmen/murderous driver?

            When I was a student, pretty much everyone knew the which lines not to cross to avoid being arrested, and at least at larger protestors, there was often a lot of tension between, let’s say normie protestors and black block protestors, because the latter were likely to push the whole thing over those lines. These days, the lines are blurry, and while there are black block people who’ll push the whole thing over, the cops are as likely to simply change where the line is randomly, especially if they’re the ones being protested.

            Point being, I think today there are generally more consequences to protests than at most points before (perhaps similar to the late 60s anti-war protests, Kent Sate not withstanding, and nowhere near, as of yet, the constant danger of the Civil Rights protests of the 50s and 60s). It’s not surprising that folks who are as removed from what’s actually happening as a 10-year Yale English teacher, or Kristin, are unaware of these things, but it’s annoying that they feel so confident in their assessments.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Chris
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              I think that a lot of us still have the mostly peaceful protests of 2020 on the brain. There was a concerted effort to say “the things you think you’re seeing are things you are not seeing” by people who were not charismatic/adept enough to say so effectively.

              (Without getting into whether or not they were telling a truth.)Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chris
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              says:

              I think comparing the environment to previous points in time is fair, so yeah, today, depending on the place and the topic, the risk profile varies widely. But I’d still hesitate to compare, say, a campus protest against endowment investment in China with a protest against police violence. The risk profiles probably aren’t even close.Report

  4. Chris
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    says:

    I link it everywhere all the time, but the Marcuse-Adorno exchange, much of which is about the student movement in the 60s (though, granted, in Germany) is, I think, a pretty good look at how the students behaved, and how the adults responded. Deresiewicz is Adorno, here, though without the intelligence, insight, critical thinking skills, or accomplishments:

    http://field-journal.com/editorial/theodor-adorno-and-herbert-marcuse-correspondence-on-the-german-student-movementReport

  5. Greg In Ak
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    says:

    Ivy students have always been privileged. If anything there are fewer hyper privileged kids there now since there has been a push to let high achieving middle class kids in. Ivy kids have always been the children of the rich but people are surprised they are entitled. Have people ever met the rich. A first gen Ivy student from an upper middle class striving family is less privileged then the avg Yalie.

    Most of us are sick of the Ivy’s. One solution, mine, is to stop paying f’n attention to them. Works for “hollywood” also.Report

  6. Oscar Gordon
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    says:

    I find it amusing that the guy bemoaning the privilege of Ivy students and their vapid protests is sure to display his credentials by appealing to his Ivy connection.Report

  7. Jaybird
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    says:

    “When I was a kid, we protested the *RIGHT* stuff. We fixed some of it. Kids today aren’t protesting the stuff that we didn’t fix. They are, instead, protesting the wrong things.”

    The problem with the above attitude is that it is unequivocally true.

    Like many true things, it cannot be said in The Current Year.Report

  8. Chris
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    says:

    The Oberlin bánh mì example, though a favorite among conservatives and IDW types, never makes any sense in these contexts.

    a) It wasn’t a protest, it was an article in the school paper, written as a journalism class project.
    b) It didn’t really even involve American students; it was foreign students complaining about what the dining hall versions of cuisine from their home country, something that I know for a fact foreign students have been complaining about since at least when I was in college in the, well, along time ago, because I had foreign student friends who complained about it back then.

    Complaints from students from Vietnam, Malaysia, and Japan seem like poor examples of what’s wrong with American youth, but Freddie has made this career revival all about, what’s the word that’s been bandied about here, performativeness, rather than facts and substance, because that’s what his fellow IDWers love, as you can see by how often folks like this 10-year Yale English teacher reference his performances.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Chris
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      says:

      https://www.oberlin.edu/news/colleges-are-losing-control-their-story-banh-mi-affair-oberlin-shows-how

      In case people care about what actually happened instead of, ya know, what didn’t actually happen.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        Yeah, the Oberlin thing was not a protest but an article in the school paper. I’d compare the article to Andy Rooney kvetching before I’d compare it to something where emotions ran high.

        I mean, if you wanted a recent example from Oberlin, there are even really good ones that happened more recently than the banh mi thing.Report

        • InMD in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          If we’re going to gripe about them that bakery protest thing they were sued over seems a lot more relevant/involving real world consequences.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          We can stay focused on all of Oberlin’s failings or we can look at why the banh mi thing was so grossly misrepresented by so many people (especially when Oberlin has so many other failings that don’t require misrepresentation!).Report

          • CJColucci in reply to Kazzy
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            says:

            No, sadly, we can’t.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy
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            says:

            Oberlin is sort of a magnet for this sort of thing. Back in the 90’s, we made fun of Oberlin for its Affirmative Consent policy. “I would like to kiss you again. Do you consent to be kissed again?” “I consent.”

            Lena Dunham (of Girls fame) was a famous Oberlin grad who encapsulated modern Oberlinity. Like, this exceptionally white, exceptionally privileged, and exceptionally *NOT* intersectional progressive feminism. There was something in there for everybody to feel queasy about.

            The banh mi thing happened in the middle of the Lena Dunham thing. School Newspaper reports that it was culturally offensive (“cultural appropriation!” was a thing there for a while).

            I know that my immediate response was “they’re making the bad food in the cafeteria into a matter of morality” and rolling my eyes. I had thought that the student body was more worked up than it actually was and, looking back, the student body was appropriately worked up given the stakes.

            I mean, how hard is it to call it “chicken on rice” instead of “chicken sushi”?

            This wasn’t an example of the students doing something like with the kimono at the art museum, they weren’t calling for censorship or anything like that.

            But everybody responded with “That’s Oberlin for you!” and Oberlin’s reputation (and, yes, past exuberance) were extrapolated out and the assumption was that Oberlin was doing it again when, really, the school newspaper was doing what any and every school newspaper has done since time immemorial: Complaining about the chow.

            The bahn mi thing was so grossly misrepresented by so many people because of all of the other failings that don’t require misrepresentation.

            It’s not fair. It’s not fair at all. But there it is.

            Hey. Lena Dunham.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird
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              says:

              So, because Lena Dunham, we can’t expect major media outlets to report accurately on anything that happens at Oberlin?

              Because Lena Dunham, we can’t expect conservatives to consider what actually happened as opposed to a caricature of what happened?

              Because Lena Dunham, it’s okay to just ignore reality?

              Man, Lena Dunham was frickin’ powerful!Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                I thought the question was about “why the banh mi thing was so grossly misrepresented by so many people” rather than whether we should be able to trust major media outlets.

                But, short answer:
                YOU CANNOT TRUST MAJOR MEDIA OUTLETS

                Because Lena Dunham, we can’t expect conservatives to consider what actually happened as opposed to a caricature of what happened?

                Of course you can.
                Heck, you can even point out other, more recent, Oberlin excesses.

                Because Lena Dunham, it’s okay to just ignore reality?

                I thought the question was about why, not something about whether it was okay.

                For the record, I don’t think it’s fair at all to use the banh mi thing as an example of why Oberlin is bad.

                I should have said.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Well, forgive me, but it read as if you were using Lena Dunham as an excuse and justification for all of that as opposed to simply offering it as a reason. I realize there is a fine line between a reason and an excuse, but given the excessive focus on just how bad Oberlin is and relatively little attention on how bad things like ignoring reality or intentionally misrepresenting people and institutions because you disagree with their politics is, I couldn’t help but think you thought Oberlin and Dunham are worse than all those other things.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                Kazzy, the media misrepresentation of anything at all is nothing new.

                If you thought that I did not have a low estimation of news media, let me disabuse you of that.

                If you wanted to know why people were so willing to believe a falsehood about Oberlin, it’s because the falsehood matched a pattern in their heads.

                Do I think it’s *BAD* that people are willing to believe untrue things about their ideological enemies just because these untrue things fit a pattern?

                Of course I do.

                Indeed, I’m willing to say “that fits a pattern” myself when I encounter an untrue thing that fits a pattern. And, hey, it’s difficult to wrestle with evidence that comes up later that contradicts the pattern.

                I’m a lot more willing to put effort into questioning the evidence that contradicts the previously established pattern than I was into questioning the evidence that further established it.

                It’s one of the reasons that I hold news media in contempt, actually. They’re pretty good at taking advantage of that sort of thing.

                Deresiewicz should have known better. He fell for an untruth that appealed to his prejudices. Heck, the first time that I heard the story, I laughed and said “Oh, that Oberlin!” as I imagined students marching against the racism that is exemplified by calling grilled chicken on rice “Chicken Sushi”.

                And then I learned the real story, resisted it, then succumbed to the truth.Report

  9. North
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    says:

    I remain torn on the question as to whether left wing unproductive identarian indulgence is truly worse than it ever was or whether the advent of the internet and a media/right wing media amplification of it merely makes it appear worse than it ever was as part of a balance/”see the other side is worse” strategy.Report

    • InMD in reply to North
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      I think it’s both. Some of it is endless social media nutpicking. Part of the nature of students/the age group is self-absorption that we hopefully grow out of as adults. Stuff gets captured in numerous mediums and spread around that even 10 or 12 years ago never would have made it outside of the purview of the people who personally witnessed whatever happened.

      To the extent there’s a difference I think it’s less about the kids and more about the existence of school authorities and administrative bodies that see their role as enabling and institutionalizing it. I think about some of the things I read about going on in law schools that, had they occurred in mine when I was there, would have resulted in either nothing or maybe a talking to from a dean about whether law school was really the right fit. Now there are a bunch of diversity officers and similar people whose role is to indulge it.

      Edit to add this is where I find the Deresiewicz piece fundamentally wrong. He should be blaming the faculty and administrators. They have the authority not the students.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to InMD
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        Let’s run with it. Deresiewicz is at fault for the very thing he bemoans. In his day, they protested and demanded that TPTB listen to students and take them seriously.

        So now TPTB are listening to the students and taking them seriously, and he’s whining about that.Report

      • North in reply to InMD
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        Yeah I lean towards it being a symptom of the fundamental problems that mainstream media and the academy are suffering from respectively.

        The former has a dead business model and are being propped up like a zombie on a stick, on one side by tech media that pays them for content & reporting and on the other side by our ever expanding supply of wealthy over credentialled worker class who’re willing to work for organizations for prestige while Mummy and Daddy foot the cost of living.

        The latter is suffering from an administration that’s taken over the whole organization like kudzu sprawling, soaking up funding and trying to run the academy like a customer service businesses while their priority becomes raking in funds for the endowment and ever expanding administrative fiefdoms instead of education and research.Report

    • Chris in reply to North
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      I believe there is one, and only one, unfortunate consequence (at least non-locally) of excessive “identitarian indulgence,” and that’s that the excesses (and wherever students or the internet are involved, there will be excesses) are what people use to dismiss very real, very bad, and ubiquitous racism, sexism, transphobia, and xenophobia. You won’t have to look beyond some of the folks on this very website to see that.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to North
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      Considering that they nutpick the same examples from the same colleges and universities over and over again? It is the Substack grift machine looking to make money by soothing the fee fees of 50 and 60-something former youths for Reagan who are deeply upset that Reagan is not the bee’s knees anymore among the kids. The majority of college students do not attend Oberlin and do not have arts and humanities majors. The majority of Oberlin students will have normal jobs within ten years of graduation and the majority of Oberlin students do not even really participate in these non-stories that are distorted out of proportion.

      I’m pretty sure I can go back to the mid-1980s when William Deresiewicz was college and find similar stories. I’m too lazy to hit the microfiche for these stories but I am certain they exist. After all, the mid-1980s was when Alan Bloom was getting cranky about college students (the closing of the American Mind) and people were complaining about the people bringing up the point that Great Books courses focused a bit too much on “dead, white, European, men.”

      The song remains the same.Report

  10. LeeEsq
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    says:

    There is something about the Internet that encourages dogmatism in writing. I don’t know if it is because you are always writing for fellow travelers but even when I agree with the overall point, it just comes across as magisterial and dogmatic.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq
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      Anybody can write “It was pretty good! 7 out of 10!”

      But if you want engagement? You either have to write “IT SUCKED! NEGATIVE 3 OUT OF 10!” or “SUBLIME! 11 OUT OF 10! 12!”

      Best to give it the sub-hed: “Anyone who disagrees with me has a moral failing.”Report

  11. Kazzy
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    says:

    Interesting semi-related note:

    Erika Christakis — who was the target of the Yale protests over her email regarding Halloween costumes — wrote a book shortly thereafter* called “The Importance of Being Little.” It is widely regarded within the early childhood world — the world she is an expert in and which she taught about at Yale — as a must-read and a super-valuable resource for teachers, schools, and parents. There are several copies on bookshelves in offices in my own school.

    * I don’t know when she actually wrote the book but it was published the year after her infamous email and the protests that followed.Report

  12. Jennifer Worrel
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    I read the piece. I liked parts of it, but it read like a mashup of two very different premises.

    1. The failure to launch phenomenon that he mentions as college is thought of as the last phase of childhood rather than the first stage of adulthood, and then the separate

    2. College students “protesting” things without much risk attachedReport

    • Kazzy in reply to Jennifer Worrel
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      The idea that there is some new stage of development occurring during the late teens and early twenties isn’t a particularly new one; in fact, I studied it in college about 15 years ago.

      http://www.jeffreyarnett.com/ARNETT_Emerging_Adulthood_theory.pdf

      Now… I don’t think it is a particularly GOOD theory or accurate one and there is lots of good criticism out there about it. But, there are folks who claim to have observed it and even have evidence and data to support it stretching back almost two decades now. So WD presenting it as some brand new phenomenon doesn’t really hold water. Maybe it is new TO HIM but the idea that college kids these days are unique in their arrested development really isn’t supported by anything.Report

      • InMD in reply to Kazzy
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        I think a lot of it is the incongruities created by a more educated society. In my grandfather’s day 18 year olds en masse were told to storm Japanese held beaches, and had they not been told to do that the vast, vast majority would have taken on full adult responsibilities and expectations. Plenty of 18 year olds indeed still do, and are deemed sufficiently adult to make that choice. However as our economy has become more complex and the level of supervised education deemed necessary to succeed in it has crept further into early adulthood we’ve ended up with a bit of schizophrenia about their status and what expectations are appropriate.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to InMD
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          There’s also the problem people like to ignore that 18 year-olds back then could leave high school and land a job that paid enough to take on adult responsibilities.

          We forget that accepting adult responsibilities involves money most of the time. Car payments, utilities, insurance, housing, necessary services, food, clothing, etc.

          If it’s nearly impossible to earn an adult wage until you finish college, there’s a perverse logic to not really taking on the mantel of adult until then.Report

          • InMD in reply to Oscar Gordon
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            says:

            Yea. I go back and forth on it. In some ways I think the only way to get people to act like adults is to treat them that way and let some chips fall. I also have hesitations about setting the bar around the people most likely to be the best off than the worst.

            At the same time I agree with your point. It’s hard to expect people to be adults in a situation where the full scope of what it entails may no longer be workable in practice.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to InMD
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              In the military, the pay is crap, when you look at the amount in your account twice a month, but a lot of the costs of living are handled by the military (food, housing, some services, medical care, etc.). That said, TPTB have strong expectations that members act like responsible adults, and exact serious penalties when you don’t.

              So I think there is a lot to be said that we generally rise to what is expected of us, as long as the expectations are reasonable within the constraints given.

              If the academy has lowered expectations, perhaps it’s because the expectations are not reasonable within the constraints. I mean, I’m in school right now, wrapping up my last quarter, and many times during this program, I’ve wondered whether or not the faculty and curriculum developers have a clue how much time students have to get things done?Report

          • North in reply to Oscar Gordon
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            says:

            It is going to be very interesting as the Boomers age out and the period running up to the 70’s stops being considered normative. I’m actually going to live to see that I presume so it should be quite a big change to us XersReport

          • Jesse in reply to Oscar Gordon
            Ignored
            says:

            Can’t we also point out that when we look back without nostalgia, that through no fault of theiir own mostly, a lot of those 18 year olds w/ mortgages, kids, etc. did a really crap job of things?

            Hell, even w/ WW II, a shocking amount of soldiers self reportedly never fired their gun through a combination of shock, fear, etc. that led to a lot of undiagnosed PTSD afterward. It probably actually isn’t a great idea to have 18 year olds as soldiers, either.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Late teens / early 20’s not being terribly responsible isn’t limited to college students, they just get the press.Report

        • Jesse in reply to Oscar Gordon
          Ignored
          says:

          I mean, to your point above about the military, for all the talk about college kids, there’s a reason there’s umpteen payday loan and pawn shops three steps outside of every military base, along with a ton of strip clubs, and there’s the cliche of the 19 year old kid out of boot camp that already has a wife (to get off base housing) and a new car that he can’t really afford. Obviously, that isn’t every person in the military, but I bet the percentage is higher than there are graduates with lots of debt in the “silly” degrees people love to point at.

          Like yes, maybe Billy can do wake up at 6 AM and follow orders, but is he really that much more responsible than some guy at the state school across town?Report

          • Michael Cain in reply to Jesse
            Ignored
            says:

            When I went back to graduate school at a state university in the early aughts, I was astounded by the tables lined up in the student center the first week of classes where banks were almost literally shoveling out credit cards with $25k limits to new freshmen. After watching for a while I took aside one of the middle-aged people who was supervising and asked him, “How is this sane?” His answer was, “Mom and Dad will, in almost every case, bail them out once and cancel the card. The second time they apply for a card, they get a low limit and very high interest rate.”Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Michael Cain
              Ignored
              says:

              I wonder where banks would get such an idea of bailouts for risky financial behavior.Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                :^)

                Full disclosure: When I started at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in the fall of 1972, one of the Lincoln banks had started a new program offering incoming freshmen who had qualified for honors classes a Visa card with a credit limit of $300. Saved my ass, they did. There was another “Michael Cain” in Lincoln who had passed bad checks everywhere. There were a handful of places that would take my check — the university and the utilities, basically. No one else. Paid it in full every month except at the beginning of the semester, because books.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jesse
            Ignored
            says:

            Places like that prey on bases specifically because they know that they can simply petition the command for garnishment of pay, and it will be approved 99% of the time. Same with alimony and child support.

            It’s enough of an issue that a big part of basic training is not being stupid with money and credit. Not everyone gets the message, but not for lack of trying on the part of the military. Base commanders also strongly discourage such places from setting up shop near bases, as much as they can.

            As opposed to colleges, who welcome the creditors on campus.Report

            • Jesse in reply to Oscar Gordon
              Ignored
              says:

              Oh, I doubt the brass are fans, I’m just pointing out putting concentrated numbers of 19 year olds will lead to silly decisions, it’s just your own personal view on what’s worse.

              On the credit card thing, since both you and @Michael Cain mentioned it – are we sure that’s still going on? Because every story I hear about it is a story from the late 90’s/early-to-mid ’00’s, aka pre-Great Recession? Is there anybody on a campus or w/ college kids who can say this is still happening, at least pre-COVID on-campus, because I wonder.

              Not that there aren’t other bad financial decisions being made, but as scary as it is, 2008 actually is close to 15 years ago now, so we can’t really make statements about college today based on things happening a decade and a half ago, if it still isn’t happening,Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jesse
                Ignored
                says:

                Fair point. I’ve been on a campus, but it’s a satellite campus, and I’m only there 2 evenings a week, so I can’t say whether or not such card offers are made on campus (as oppose to getting flooded into email or snail mail boxes).

                I guess the point I was trying to make is the Universities don’t have strong incentives to protect student credit, and if CC companies pay for mailing lists, they may have a financial incentive to sell those, if nothing else.Report

              • dhex in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                just as a point of clarification, no university/college is selling their students info to cc companies; those companies can however buy from brokers based on sliceable demo/geo/psychodemo info, etc.

                back to your regularly scheduled proxy wars. 🙂Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to dhex
                Ignored
                says:

                Good to know, thank youReport

        • Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon
          Ignored
          says:

          “Conclusion:
          Emerging adulthood has become a distinct period of the life course for young people in industrialized societies. It is a period characterized by change and exploration for most people, as they examine the life possibilities open to them and gradually arrive at more enduring choices in love, work, and worldviews. Not all young people experience their late teens and twenties as years of change and exploration, even in industrialized societies. Some lack the opportunities to use those years as a volitional period; others may be inclined by personality or circumstances to limit their explorations or to seek a relatively early resolution to them. Nevertheless, as scholars we can characterize emerging adulthood as a period when change and exploration are common, even as we recognize the heterogeneity of the period and investigate this heterogeneity as one of emerging adulthood’s distinguishing characteristics. Emerging adulthood merits scholarly attention as a distinct period of the life course in industrialized societies. It is in many respects the age of possibilities, a period in which many different potential futures remain possible and personal freedom and exploration are higher for most people than at any other time. It is also a period of life that is likely to grow in importance in the coming century, as countries around the world reach a point in their economic development where they may allow the prolonged period of exploration and freedom from roles that constitutes emerging adulthood.”

          I think the theory gets right that the lived experiences of most folks in that age range are different now than they were several generations ago but I think it gets wrong that A) these changes are somehow unique to this age range (i.e., the lived experiences of most folks in all age ranges is different now than several generations ago) and B) these changes somehow reflect a change in human development as opposed to human culture.

          The article does mention that folks who didn’t attend college (“the silent half”) don’t follow the theory quite so neatly and argues they are hard to study because they are more dispersed throughout the population as opposed to college kids who are very easy to find and generally very easy to study. It ultimately sort of hand waves this away.

          The extent to which I think the theory is accurate — and which I think folks here are arguing — is not that folks 18-25 suddenly are developmentally incapable of doing certain things, it is simply that our expectations for them has shifted that many of them aren’t well-positioned to do these things.

          That has certain costs associated with it but also certain benefits. I mean, many generations ago pre-teens were very adept at factory work and it’d be easy to bemoan how incapable those same kids are in this area these days. So while we could bemoan the loss of these skills, what have those kids gained by being given a different experience during that time of development?

          How are 18-25 year-olds better off these days because they aren’t expected to take on the full responsibilities of adulthood so early? There are indeed costs, but this shift is not entirely negative.Report

  13. Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    Once again, I bunch of old cranky people are taking the same old cherry picked examples of young people doing things which may or may not be silly and using it to declare how bad today’s youth were compared to themselves in their college years. I think complaints like this are as old as civilization themselves and every new cohort of middle-aged and old people will cry a trillion times “but this time it really is different.” A slightly inbetween group (e.g. Bari Weiss) will grift on their substacks to soothe the hurt fee fees of old people.

    I’m not impressed. I’m even less impressed because humans seem to repeat this story every generation without fail. I’m pretty sure I can go back to the years when William Deresiewicz was a college student and find “look at college students these days. Look at how bad they are. Look at how silly their protests are compared to the students who went down to Mississippi during freedom summer.”

    This is all so very predictable and very boring. People should be ashamed by how predictable, boring, and repetitive this cycle is but that kind of shame does not let Bari Weiss or Freddie DeBoer bring in those sweet, sweet, substack dollars from conservatives looking to state “even the liberal Bari Weiss and socialist Freddie DeBoer…..”Report

  14. Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    On the one hand, another 14 children and a teacher were killed by by a gunman. On the other hand, people think this is a small price to pay for being able to indulge in their resentments against bougie liberals all the time.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      My take as well.
      We are witnessing the Republicans plotting to overthrow representative democracy and strip rights from half the population.

      I just got no patience for some overripe sniveling gasbag.Report

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