The rise of the joyless university
What do young adults need to be happy? A recent article about the elimination of Stanford University’s fraternity houses and other “themed” residences got me thinking about this question.
In a piece called “Stanford’s War on Social Life” published in Palladium magazine, Ginevra Davis reports on how once — not so long ago — this highly regarded West Coast institution used to be fun. She tells the story of elaborate pranks pulled by Stanford students — who were smart but definitely not dull — including the creation of an island in the middle of a human-made lake on campus. Today, she writes, students seem “aimless and lonely” in a new social order that she says “offers a peek into the bureaucrat’s vision for America.”
“It is a world without risk, genuine difference, or the kind of group connection that makes teenage boys want to rent bulldozers and build islands. It is a world largely without unencumbered joy; without the kind of cultural specificity that makes college, or the rest of life, particularly interesting.”