Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

These kids today . . .

Oh my God, am I becoming a curmudgeon? No, I really don't think so. The NYT sent a reporter to State College, who had a front row seat as students set fires, trashed a TV van, attacked police, and otherwise vandalized their campus in their outrage over the firing of the football coach. I don't know if reporter Nate Schweber went out of his way to find morons, but he evidently didn't have much trouble.

“I think the point people are trying to make is the media is responsible for JoePa going down,” said a freshman, Mike Clark, 18

Demonstrators tore down two lamp posts, one falling into a crowd. They also threw rocks and fireworks at the police, who responded with pepper spray. The crowd undulated like an accordion, with the students crowding the police and the officers pushing them back. “We got rowdy, and we got maced,” Jeff Heim, 19, said rubbing his red, teary eyes. “But make no mistake, the board started this riot by firing our coach. They tarnished a legend.”

Justin Muir, 20, a junior studying hotel and restaurant management, threw rolls of toilet paper into the trees. “It’s not fair,” Mr. Muir said hurling a white ribbon. “The board is an embarrassment to our school and a disservice to the student population.”

Paul Howard, 24, an aerospace engineering student, jeered the police. “Of course we’re going to riot,” he said. “What do they expect when they tell us at 10 o’clock that they fired our football coach?”

Now listen up. Yeah I'm old now but I went to college. We even had a football team, and it almost became famous. Swarthmore was at one point poised to break the all-time NCAA record for consecutive losses. CBS even sent a crew to cover the historic event. The student body was behind them 100%. The stands were packed and the roar deafening. Well, you could hear something, anyway. The Swarthmore College marching band (which featured an amplified cello) performed its famous amoeba formation at half time for the benefit of national television. But our heroes blew it. They scored a touchdown as time expired to win the game. We were all really bummed out, even more so because it was a bad call. The ball never made it over the goal line.

So yeah, we were 100% behind the coach and players. But in spite of our passionate loyalty, if it turned out that one of the assistant coaches had been raping boys in the locker room and the head coach, athletic director, and college president all covered it up and merely told the guy to do his child raping elsewhere, I'm pretty sure we'd have started the rioting before they all got fired and only would have stopped once they were fully and unceremoniously canned.

Does this signal the decline of the West? Or am I overinterpreting?


kathy a. said...

the frontal lobe does not finish development until the mid-twenties.

these students are not thinking it through, and contributing is the fact that college football culture owns all, for reasons i will never be able to understand.

i do not think they are focusing on kids being raped in the locker room and elsewhere, which i trust nobody supports.

i do not think they are focusing on the fact that paterno and way on up to the presidency of the college, people knew and didn't tell authorities.

i do not think they are thinking about how they would feel if it was them being raped in the locker room, or their sibling, or their friend.

there are a couple of discussions on an academic blog i admire, edge of the american west.

roger said...

it's one signal among many. and really, "of course we'er going to riot"?.

but contrast these students with others who strike for better wages for lowly university employees-- gardeners and janitors. or those who join ows.

kathy a. said...

if these students had better focus -- and really i do blame U culture for part of that -- they would be standing up for the U employees who help them every day, and not giving a rat's ass about a football coach who protected a child molester.

also, ya know, the academics ought to be in there -- not enough classes available, U's going for adjuncts at low pay and no benefits instead of full staff, etc. i do think the academics are what college should be all about, and football generally does not support that mission.