I’ve been wide-eyed on some of my visits, struck by the extent to which being a student today resembles living at Versailles, where Louis XIV’s every whim was so thoroughly accommodated that there was even a Superintendent of the King’s Furniture. One college tour guide proudly informed us that upon arrival every freshman is issued a brand-new laptop. Even if the students already have one? Why, yes, the guide replied.
Then there’s the food. I can’t say we were deprived when I was an undergraduate 35 years ago. (For a time steak was served every Saturday night.) But compared with today’s students we were like inmates of a gulag, having to survive on a single daily bowl of gruel. Nowadays, every taste and eating disorder is catered to — Japanese, Mexican, vegan — and, in many cases, 24/7.
Indeed “24/7″ could be the motto of undergraduate life. Facilities like libraries and gyms are open around the clock. Computer services are available at all hours, too. One college we visited must keep its tech support team doped up on amphetamines. Accidentally dump a cup of coffee into your laptop? No problem! They’ll have it back to you in full working order in a day — something no private-sector IT department could afford to offer.
On every tour we took, guides proudly boasted about the wide selection of clubs at their respective institutions — a number that almost everywhere runs into the hundreds. And they reassured us that if, after surveying these abundant offerings, a student finds some lack, he can start his own organization and the college will subsidize it — no questions asked.
Of course, it isn’t really the college subsidizing it. It’s us, the parents. Until I started these tours, I used to assume that college kids tilted left politically because they were young and impressionable. Maybe, but it’s also because they get introduced to the welfare state at a tender age and become addicted. The government (college) offers cradle-to-grave (matriculation-to-graduation) care and feeding, levying higher taxes (tuition) on the populace (parents) whenever the spirit moves them — which is every year. Not even the actual government is that brazen.