Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On College Debates, T-shirts, and Football

There are a lot of things I miss about college, but this doesn't mean I actually want to go back to college. I don't think I could handle going back, because those four* years were probably the most vivid and intense of my existence. I seem to remember everything about college, even certain things I probably don't want to remember, and I presume this is because every situation seemed freighted with artificial importance. Everyone in college, at all times, is on a quest to either A.) Maximize their newfound freedom, B.) Change the world's fundamental economic system by protesting about condoms, and/or C.) Build up their resume. Every conversation really feels like it matters, even if it's about beer.

And this is why the editorial page of a college newspaper is the most wonderful display of burgeoning humanity on earth. Back in my time, a columnist for our school newspaper appropriated the most incendiary language Malcolm X ever used: He referred to white people as "devils." He wound up on CNN. Only in college could we find ourselves so utterly divided over the issue of changing the name of the Women's Studies program to Womyn's Studies, so as to neuter the modifier; at times, the argument over a deliberate misspelling actually led people to storm out of rooms in protest. And yet we had no idea that the rest of the world wasn't taking us seriously at all.

And so it is even now at my alma mater, this time over a T-shirt, a T-shirt that may or may not**be a tool of Christian propaganda and indoctrination, though it was apparently dreamed up by a Jewish studies minor and drew approximately six complaints. But now it has become a story, and now it has become, no doubt, the talk of the entire campus. Only in college could so many people work themselves into a frenzy over a debate that directly affects no one at all. And I guess that's what I miss the most. Well, that and the chicken sandwiches.

*and a half.
**OK, probably not.

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