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Bubble, Bubble, Tuition Trouble

After reading Lew’s link the other day to my second-favorite venture capitalist (sorry Jim, Doug Casey got to me first at Freedom Fest in 2004!), I perused through Time’s margins and saw a slideshow entitled: The Evolution of the College Dorm. Being a Resident Assistant at a large state university, I have had a first-eye view of urm…the finest of my generation, but I have never really had another experience to compare it to. Uniforms of uncleverly lewd t-shirts and jeans, loud libraries, and feet placed upon nearly every surface imaginable is the gauntlet I have to endure daily, so seeing pictures of – gasp! – students dressed in the Code of Tucker, stately libraries where quiet means cemetery quiet, and a beautiful lack of feet propped up on the seat in front of them, is like a dream come true. But unfortunately, the title of the slideshow is "The Evolution of the College Dorm," and so came the steady march of mutating standards.

Single sex colleges? You can toss that opportunity to focus on studies away from the pressures of opposite sex courting/flirting to the wayside. Single sex dorms? Why you don’t want to isolate our next generation of adults from the opposite sex do you? After all, they need proper "socialization" because they’ll never encounter the opposite sex in their daily lives unless they’re living with them! Brown University is being "progressive" to the core and taking this to its logical conclusion: "gender neutral" bathrooms and dorm rooms! Now believe me, I am by no means saying that every single university and place of higher education needs to have everything separated by gender, I want the market to find all sorts of niches were young adults can easily find the learning environment that best suits them. My problem is with the hijacking of the debate by the cultural Left who honestly believe that there is no debate to be had. "But you don’t understand. I’m right, you’re wrong. I’m just helping you!," they say with no hint of irony. There is nothing the cultural Left/libertines love more than "consensus" (read: submission) to their values, and you can throw that "right to associate" junk right out the window; that’s the last refuge of racists you know!

My argument for some separation of the sexes (at least floor level, if not the entire dorm) comes more from a view of incentives rather than religious or moral. Why would a parent fork over tens of thousands of dollars a year so they can throw their child making the transition to adulthood into a den of social pressures (at the peak of their sexual development no less), where the last thing on all the residents’ minds is working even harder than they did in high school? It’s a horrible situation to throw these otherwise legal adults into when they’ve been encouraged by every segment of society to delay adulthood well into their 30s. They’re still free to make all the bad decisions they want in poorly-lit rooms, just so long as the dorm can be theirs (and others’) last refuge of responsibility. OK, enough of the RA ranting, and onto the other social transmitted disease peddled by Baby Boomers to my generation: being materialistic when you don’t have the money to support it.

Not only are the college kids themselves enamored with higher living standards through plastic (iPhones, Audis, $200+ Dolce Gabanna sunglasses, $2,500 Versace purses, and other luxuries, are ubiquitous, even with freshmen), but the universities too! Looking at some of the dorms in the slideshow you would think you were taking a virtual tour of a retreat spa, not a student dormitory where their expectations for the rest of their life are made! Bored at the villa? Then just saunter over to the 3-story indoor climbing wall, or perhaps walk around the multi-million dollar state-of-the-art gym wearing work-out clothes, while never actually working out, because you came there only for the … Cold Stone Creamery inside it! Oh, Karen De Coster, wishes do come true!

Of course not everyone drank the Easy Credit kool-aid from the Federal Reserve, some actually wanted to remain somewhat self-sufficient and realistic when it came to funding the educations of millions of youths transitioning into adulthood. Funny also how those 10 "work colleges" have little to no athletic departments to speak of, whereas many universities (especially state land-grants) have literally whored themselves out to the Sports Entertainment-Industrial complex in order to get their "fix" without adding any actual value to the college experience. I won’t even go into how unnecessary most of the non-hard science degrees are, and why community colleges are the way to go if you have to take those dreadfully overpriced General Education Courses or GECs, because Gary North has done a fine job of that. Or even why prices for college have been skyrocketing since the massive federal subsidization of the 50’s & 60’s. If you’re given money guaranteed no matter your performance, how likely are you to follow a budget? Next to none. You’re always going to be claiming more and more funds to "properly run necessities," as the definition of what a university and its students "need" will shift out and up to make even the St. Louis Fed blush. Excess of funds means inefficient use and division among departments, which leads to every possible source of income being tapped dry as the university spends the money before it can even put it into an Al Gore–certified fair-trade and organic lockbox.

Here is where I would normally give advice to college students that have been sucked into this panoply of scams, but there’s a certain bent part of me that really wants to just wait and let reality mug them. I realize being an RA means guiding and teaching, but isn’t hunger the best teacher? After all, do I really need any more competition dumpster-diving for goodies that are thrown away at the end of the academic year when they realize they bought more than they can fit in the car to take back home? Sorry, but that’s just the Doug Casey in me speaking from within.

May 20, 2009

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