Two veteran academics are ringing the alarms about the behavior and mindset of college students in America today, pointing to a “profoundly unintellectual” environment rife with sexual promiscuity that’s undermining marriages and families.
Former Yale English professor William Deresiewicz and Vigen Guroian, professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia, presented their thoughts at a recent conference at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, The College Fix reports.
Deresiewicz argued that many students seemingly lack passion and “aren’t trained to pay attention to the things they feel connected to.”
The former Yale professor, who also taught at Columbia University, contends many American universities have become “profoundly unintellectual” because students are more focused on the process of learning and “accumulating gold stars,” which means they “don’t have time for intellectual curiosity.”
Students, he said, “can’t think for themselves because they don’t have time.”
The result is students who have told Deresiewicz “’I hate all my activities, I hate all my classes, I hated high school, and I expect to hate my job,’” he told students. Higher education, Deresiewicz believes, now produces “a large number of mentally smart, (but) situationally confused graduates.”
“You might as well go to Wall Street and make a lot of money if you have nothing better to do,” he said.
These concerns echo those expressed recently by James Davison Hunter, executive director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture who spoke at the Baylor University’s Institute for Faith and Learning recently. Hunter warned, “In an effort to establish a neutral and inclusive moral paradigm, the moral universe is emptied of all particularities that make it binding on the conscience…. An inclusive morality tends to reduce morality to the thinnest of platitudes.”
Guroian, author of controversial Christianity Today article “Dorm Brothel,” spoke about the how what’s becoming a collegiate sexual free-for-all is eroding the moral fabric of traditional courtship and marriage, leading to rising divorce rates.
“I believe that the college experience has an impact on the marriages our children make,” he said.
In the past, college was a place where many people found their spouse, Guroian said, but it now more resembles “a parent-funded motel party.”
“Dating has taken a back seat,” he said. “Where courtship languishes, marriage weakens.”
Hunter reminds us that communities grounded in the particularities of religion have the capacity to form moral character substantive enough to deal with life’s ethical challenges.
Teachers and principals working to strengthen moral and citizenship formation in their students can find information and strategies at the UK’s The Jubilee Centre. In The Jubilee Centre’s own words, the following illustrates how the centre views it work. “The Jubilee Centre is a pioneering interdisciplinary research centre on character, virtues and values in the interest of human flourishing. The Centre is a leading informant on policy and practice through its extensive range of projects contributes to a renewal of character virtues in both individuals and society.”