Good Old College School Daze
When I receive my college alumnae magazine in the mail, I scan it more than actually read it. The professors I knew are long retired; I have lost touch with many of my friends; the only large amounts of money I ever gave were in the form of tuition payments, so I will never see my name highlighted as a major donor. I follow major-league baseball; the articles on the field hockey and soccer teams don't interest me.
The college I attended clearly tilted to the liberal side, which never bothered me at the time because I tilted to that direction myself. "Liberal" also meant something different back then. Being liberal didn't prevent the college from sponsoring lectures by individuals who represented views from across the political spectrum; nor did it prevent the administration from hiring faculty who welcomed debate and discussions within their classrooms, regardless of their own political views.
I believed in what they are now calling "social justice"; heck, I joined the Peace Corps. I believed in socialized medicine, admiring England's National Health Service. This health care would of course include subsidized birth control and abortion. Sandra Fluke and I could have been sorority sisters!
However, while I latched on firmly to these ideals, I never reviled my country; I also accepted full responsibility for my own success or failure. I never questioned that I would finish college, get a job, and pay back my college loans. I attended demonstrations and rallies but saw them as an opportunity to exercise my constitutional rights with like-minded people, as opposed to a chance to break laws and destroy public property. Garbage bins and Porta-Potties were used for their intended purposes, and I don't remember there ever being the need to call the police.
I haven't actually been on campus in more than fifteen years, and I naively assumed that this softcore liberal atmosphere still existed throughout the campus, in the classrooms, in discussions over meals in the dining hall and study sessions in the dorms. So while I have become more and more conservative, I never regretted my college experience. It was just the opposite; I embraced it as part of the path I needed to take to arrive at true political realization. However, after reading the most recent issue of the alumnae magazine, I can no longer hold on to the hope that somehow my alma mater was different from all the other colleges and universities in this country.
The spring issue included coverage of a series of one-day symposia as part of "Student Engagement Week." To tell you the truth, just the word "Engagement" gives me the creeps. As part of the Activism Symposium, two members of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) had been invited to speak. Coverage of their presentation provided glowing reviews of the effectiveness of OWS, including the imaginative communication style of the General Assemblies; other speakers encouraged members of the audience to find their "political voice" through the Occupy Movement. Of course, there was no mention of the lawlessness, destruction of property, and violence perpetrated at many of OWS encampments. That would have shattered the illusion that OWS is a "feel-good" movement and that its representatives legitimately deserved to be in attendance at such an academic endeavor.
The hypocrisy of the college administration is astonishing. They seem to forget that without the hated "1%," they, like many other college and universities, wouldn't survive. What was even more ridiculous is that the editors of magazine also included an article in the same issue about the business success and philanthropic activities of one of the alumnae. The irony obviously escaped them.
I tried reading about the other symposia, but just became more enraged as I came to realize that when the college's president touted that a college education is about "formulating a broad range of ideas," she really meant to say that attending college is about formulating only liberal, progressive ideas.
I wrote a letter to the editor to complain. I do not expect a response. I am not a big donor and obviously not of the correct political persuasion. I am just a former student who feels cheated of her memories of a place where, long ago, ivy-covered walls welcomed us all.
Mary Durbin is a late-blooming conservative who lives and works in the Tampa Bay area.