Duke University is getting bad press these days. Its lacrosse team had a very bad party during which a stripper was attacked and gang raped. You read the story, I'm sure. This type of thing seems increasingly frequent on the university and even service academy scene.
Attention has turned now to discussions of the bad town – gown relations in the Durham community.
When I was a student at Vanderbilt, we raised a lot of cain, but nothing like this. I have always considered myself a liberal fellow but sometimes these days identify with Archie Bunker singing "Those were the good old days."
It isn't just Duke.
For the past several years we have spent a few months during the summer just off the campus of Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California. This is a beautiful campus, with high scholastic standing and obviously privileged students. Classy place.
These kids drive fancy new cars that cost more than their annual tuition, which is monumental, to say the least. They have a lively social life which often goes well into the night and is probably similar to that of Duke students (see above NYT article.) I would venture a guess that this is the pattern in many, maybe even most colleges and universities across the country.
Student relationships with the adult community can become, as you might expect, tense in San Luis Obispo. But I write specifically about student contact with senior citizens.
Our apartment complex sits right in the heart of student housing. We have 24 dedicated senior citizen apartments. Kids are not with but all around us. We are grandparent types, living for a brief summer period on their turf.
There is no apparent hostility – or affection – between the two generation groups. There is, in fact, no relationship at all. Any personal contact is pretty much avoided. They don't quite know what to make of us. Or we of them.
On occasion I have approached and chatted with students. Things went well, especially if I happened to be walking my two dogs. But underlying it all there seemed a distance and a suspicion that these people don't belong to our world.
I suspect this is increasingly true in many places. If it is, we may have a serious problem. Grandparents are a treasured resource for college students. Or should be. College students are a treasured resource to everyone. Or should be.
Something is missing here.