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How we got to now

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Maybe most college women really don't care for some random-assigned dude to show up in the communal bath. Gross. Maybe they don't really want to live "Girls," just watch it on television.

Kevin and Marilyn
Ryan

Do you know where your college daughters are this weekend? We grieve with parents and friends over the death of Heather Graham, the missing University of Virginia freshman whose body was discovered last weekend. But how do things like this happen? Quite honestly college administrators are given an impossible task. Students cannot be protected from all the possible perils they can encounter. Nor do students away from home want much oversight.

Social commentator Camille Paglia takes aim at colleges over their infantilizing supervision of campus life. She writes in Time magazine that there is something contradictory in colleges' whipped up fury over sexual assaults. She thinks colleges should stick to academics and stop the extension of helicopter parent supervision of student life. Real campus crimes should be reported to police, not to some haphazard ill-trained campus grievance committee.

Too many young middle class women expect their campus life to be like their overprotected suburban upbringing. What they need to know is that the world, not to mention co-ed campus life, is a jungle. What young women believe is "romance," often turns dark quickly. In each year in the U.S., approximately 7 million women are raped or physically assaulted by a current or former partner.

Campus social life is often a hunt where guys spread the word (if not diseases) of their conquests. Who can blame them, having their attitudes fine-tuned on sexually-charged television series. Away from parental supervision, they have a bevy of girls awaiting their exploration. College is the laboratory for developing all sorts of exciting skills. The good times roll on, just conducted in an ivy-covered dorm. What happens when a fresh-faced girl goes off with a rakish sort of guy? He may not even be matriculating, just hanging out, looking for girls. Sometimes the outcome is a mystery such as at UVA, the now-gone girl, yet to be found. Many hearts are broken, followed by disillusionment. Girls need to be aware of the real consequences of independent life.

Further, the curriculum in colleges unhinges a neophyte in a maelstrom of life styles. Rather than uncovering the wisdom of Western thinking, gender issues and ideology dominate campus studies. Often the curriculum denies that sex differences are rooted in biology and sees them as malleable and open to choice. Our young students are susceptible to new and titillating ideas. In our time, it was mostly Marxism.

While we are at it, who wants co-ed dorms, not to mention bathrooms? How did this idea of progress find a following? Was it that administrators just couldn't fathom that every modern idea might not be a good one? Most women prefer (maybe we go too far) to choose with whom they share bed, bath and beyond. Maybe most college women really don't care for some random-assigned dude to show up in the communal bath. Gross. Maybe they don't really want to live "Girls," just watch it on television.

Another pop writer with a soon to-be- televised book series (so therefore widely interviewed) has our few minutes of attention. Steven Johnson's book, "How We Got to Here," completely misses the most critical society changing invention of our time: the birth control pill. His story of innovation and collaboration highlights six innovations that made the world modern. He details contributions through chemistry such as chapters on Glass, Cold, Sound, Clean, Time, and Light. With a single innovation, such as light, he hopscotches through history to reveal vast and often unintended consequences. How did he miss the pill? Next series maybe.

Argue, if you wish, the thermos bottle, the electric car having the greatest impact, but we will stick with the birth control pill as having the most dramatic impact since Marxism on our era. The pill changed everything by separating sex from consequences. Loosening the sacrament of marriage is a likely result of the pill. New concepts of child-rearing and family arrangements are further consequences. We have been dealt a whammy. Hooking up, novel domestic arrangements, babies without fathers or fathers-in-sperm-only are realities.

Of course, we are old hat. The modernists want to rearrange family ties. Never mind the family has proven to be the best environment for growing children for thousands of years. Many women want their freedoms, and their experimental life styles. They get these ideas in radical curriculums which were paid for by their parents.

Modern moms packing their daughters off to college, buying comforters, and moving van loads of items for college dorms, often add the birth control pill. It doesn't take much space. Maybe they dispensed it even earlier to the delicate teenager. In one stroke, the parent who has hovered, made decisions for their daughters, added a bonus. Now sex is added to the curriculum. An unfamiliar environment, new ideas and friends to absorb, and then add sex to the mix. The first parties always involve alcohol. Who can be prepared for all these new, new things in one immersion?

Many parents text their college children many times daily, unable to give up authority. But by the time the first class meets, the transfer begins. Even on campuses with bucolic settings, the jungle rules.

How about asking campus administrators to revisit dorm policies and get rid of co-ed units. It would be great not to have to share in a sex-charged dorm floor the first year of college.

Kevin and Marilyn Ryan, editors of "Why I'm Still a Catholic," worship at St. Lawrence Church in Brookline.

Kevin and Marilyn Ryan, editors of "Why I'm Still a Catholic," worship at St. Lawrence Church in Brookline, Mass.

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