Added: Janay Knapp - Date: 20.01.2022 03:20 - Views: 41763 - Clicks: 4917
T hanks to everything from pop culture to college propaganda , when students arrive on campuses today they expect—with varying levels of inclination and trepidation—to have a really good time. How did college become fun? To really understand, we have to go back, back three hundred years at least, to when college was not fun at all.
During the colonial era in the U. There were substantial penalties for deviance and they came swiftly. At the time, most students were relatively humble middle-class men studying to be ministers like their professors. They were generally obedient, but as the eighteenth century came to a close, colleges were increasingly filled with wealthy sons of elite families. Predictably, they had a much lower tolerance for submission. As a result, higher education became a battleground.
Between the mids and the mids, there were student protests and uprisings at every school in New England and most of those in the South, with students objecting to everything from the quality of the food to the rigidity of schedules to the content of the curriculum. They sang, yelled, and blew horns late into the night to torture their sleeping professors.
They set fire to school buildings, smoked faculty out of their offices, and rolled flaming tar barrels across campus. At Yale students detonated a bomb, occupied buildings, and drove back a local militia. People got killed in campus riots. Somebody lost an eye. Expulsions were common. After one riot at Harvard, 62 percent of the graduating class was expelled. Princeton once expelled more than half its student body. In an effort to make the punishment as powerful a deterrent as possible, college presidents agreed among themselves not to admit students who had been kicked out of other institutions.
Defying the consensus, Nott took in the errant sons of the other colleges, which may be one reason why, in the year , Union College became home to one of the biggest rebellions of all: Kappa Alpha , the first social fraternity.
Greek life is thoroughly embedded in higher education today, but at first the two were at odds. The men who started fraternities did so specifically to cultivate values that their professors opposed. They rejected the religious values held by their pious professors and lauded the skills they believed would be useful for winning in this life, not the next. Instead of humility, equality, and morality, fraternities promoted status, exclusion, and indulgence. Their attitude was summed up by one nineteenth-century Virginian.
Infused with a rebelliousness that was their birthright, fraternities incubated a lifestyle that revolved around recklessness and irresponsibility. To these preoccupations, fraternities would eventually add sexual conquest. Before the s, fraternity men had sex mostly with prostitutes, poor women, and women they enslaved. By , though, women made up 40 percent of the national collegiate population and college was becoming a place where young men and women of the same class mingled relatively unsupervised.
This changed the way fraternity men thought about sex. Once recreational, it became increasingly competitive. Partly in response, the criteria for membership shifted to reflect the social and sexual functions of fraternity life as much as its economic elitism. By this time popular interest in college life had reached a fever pitch and the fraternity man was at the center of the story. His way of doing college was so frequently depicted, so relentlessly glamorized, and so ceaselessly centered, that it had become impossible to imagine college without him.
And, rather quickly—and here is where his story meets the stories of so many college students in America today—his way of doing college became the way of doing college. For a while, college administrators continued to try to control students, employing curfews, adult residence hall monitors, punishments for drinking and sexual activity, and other rules and practices meant to protect students from themselves.
Rules were especially strict for women. Eventually, the baby boomers put an end to that control. Chafing under the restrictions on their freedom, they demanded to be regarded as the legal adults they were, and they got their wish. When Animal House was released in , the alcohol industry saw an opportunity and aggressively ramped up marketing on campus. They started advertising in school newspapers, erecting massive inflatable beer cans at sporting events, promoting drink specials at nearby bars and clubs, and hiring students as representatives of their brands to give beer away for free.
Between the vision of college life promulgated by the alcohol industry and the founding of Kappa Alpha more than years before, college life had steadily transformed. Nothing emerged to stop or slow the march toward more and more fun, until That year the U.
By , all states had complied and campuses were held able for policing underage drinking in residence halls. Still, collegiate life was far too drenched in drink to be derailed by such a little thing. The new drinking age succeeded only in driving much of the drinking off-campus. They still coordinate groups of young people, organizing their lives in sometimes rigid ways. Reprinted from American Hookup by Lisa Wade. With permission of the publisher, W. All rights reserved. at letters time. By Lisa Wade. Be the first to see the new cover of TIME and get our most compelling stories delivered straight to your inbox.
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