University Land

Dr. Corinne Masur

With a huge amount of terrible news in the news recently, the WORST news regarding the deterioration of American values I have read involves the arms race amongst universities to provide the coolest attractions on campuses so that more kids will apply. According to the New York Times, when LSU surveyed students in 2009 to find out what they most wanted in their new recreation center, the one feature that beat out all others was a lazy river. Yes, a lazy river – like those found at amusement parks.

Since when did college and theme parks overlap?

Evidently dozens of colleges are building water rides. Students involved in their college’s planning process wanted something “cooler than what everybody else had.”

Giving in to this sort of demand as a parent is bad parenting. Do we really want the colleges and universities our children attend (or will attend in the future) engaging in bad parenting practices? Do we send our children to college to learn that it is OK to want things that are cooler than the next guy’s? Do we want colleges to endorse our children’s materialism and desire to spend their college years on fun rides?

For many it is a given that college sports have gone too far and too many colleges are spending too much money on sports programs to the detriment not only of the college athletes but also to the value systems of thousands of other students. But who knew that colleges are now investing millions to provide on-campus versions of Disneyland? What happened to the idea that colleges are places for study and learning, intellectual debate and critical thinking?

My son is 16. He will be allowed to choose what colleges he wants to visit. But I will be much happier if he ends up judging colleges by their laboratory facilities over their sports facilities and their professors over their theme parks. Let him have an adventure going off campus to an amusement park if he wants – or to a major league baseball game for that matter – as long as he gets back in time for some late night debates and studying for class.

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