Thursday, November 25, 2021

College Community

Colleges have an underlying incentive that they don't tell you about in promoting "community." They want you to keep sending them money after you or your children leave the place. Therefore they promote the idea that you belong to the special ones even before you quite get there, in the acceptance material.

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

It is very pronounced at the Ivies and Seven Sisters, of course, but they also try very hard at Ivy Wannabees like Duke and Bucknell, and state schools use it to promote a sort of loyalty to your region, to the whole interconnected local world even when you move away.  They don't make that much money from shirts and hats. Texas A&M promotes itself as a very tight-knit ongoing group, we have learned now that Ben has been in Texas so many years. Religious colleges do it - I think with more justification.

This is much of what is behind colleges doing all sorts of ridiculous permittings and forbiddings and creating the illusion of campus-wide statements against racism. We know from the occasional polls which filter out that most students don't care much one way or the other about the individual events, which they often support the general idea of but find the specific expressions a bit crazy, and certainly intrusive. The news stories generate outrage from parents and local groups and place the schools in some legal jeopardy. Conservatives usually complete the picture by figuring that what they must be getting back is status from their academic and liberal institutional friends, and work to undermine that. Some. That's some of it.  But when you remember that convincing everyone that they are part of a community, one that can be tapped for resources for years to come, is the value embedded so deeply in their thinking that they don't even notice it most of the time themselves, a lot of these antics are understood. That an individual protest might be patently foolish and indefensible is not the point.  The idea of the college as community must be preserved and expressed at all costs.


james said...

That's a good point.
There's a bonding in shared suffering, and students could look back fondly on their time--but I'd expect most of that would be with their fellow-sufferers. To appreciate the old school enough to support it requires some years of perspective. So it makes sense for the U to pump the "experience" as much as they can.

There might be another aspect too.
Schools typically have a lot of boys and young men, many of whom are frequently bored. We know what bored boys do. If you can persuade them that they need to cheer for the team and feel a bond to the institution, you stand a chance of having a lower maintenance and repair bill at the end of the year.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

My recollection is that was one of the things they discovered when dorms went co-ed, that the plumbing remained intact longer.