Comment of the Day #2: Advice From A Father To His Hypothetical College Freshman Son, In Reaction To “Ethics Observations On The Old Dominion University Signa Nu Fraternity Freakout”

Judge Hardy would have approved.

Judge Hardy would have approved.

As with the first Comment of the Day posted today, Steve-O-in-NJ  takes an Ethics Alarms essay in a new direction, as he uses my post about Old Dominion University’s treating an ill-considered episode of frat boy sexual innuendo as the equivalent of threatened rape and sexual violence. His Comment of the Day is his advice to a college-entering hypothetical son, in light of the dangers inherent in the modern campus culture.

It also begins with an assertion that is vital but that none of the Presidential candidates—or the President— discussing the issues of student loans and the cost of college ever seem to make, which is that the purpose of college is to learn to think, become educated, broaden intellectual horizons and be socialized as a blossoming adult and productive citizen. Instead, we, and they, are told that a degree is essential to get a job and make as much money as possible, regardless of whether or not that piece of paper stands for any increased knowledge and skill. Often it doesn’t. Usually it doesn’t. It was over this issue—promoting education as a work credential rather than as a life enhancement and necessity—that I resigned as president of an education promoting non-profit many years ago. The situation has only gotten worse since. This warping of purpose also warps student ethics: if the piece of paper is without substance, why not cheat to obtain it?

Here is the Comment of the Day by Steve-O-in-NJ on the post Ethics Observations On The Old Dominion University Signa Nu Fraternity Freakout:

I don’t have a son, but if I did and he was beginning his freshman year at college, I’d tell him “Son, never lose sight of why you are going here. It’s frankly to amass a lot of knowledge, 25% of which might actually be useful, and to walk away with a degree that will open doors for you to become a self-supporting, productive, tax-paying citizen. Anything that gets in the way of that, you need to stay the hell away from.

The professors will not remember you after you have finished their course, but while you are in it and while you are here, they are holding all the cards. They want you to give back exactly what they give you, so do it. You will need letters of recommendation for graduate school and performance is the best way to get them.

The administration are like cops, municipal judges, and insurance adjusters, not people you ever want to see if you can avoid it, and if you do, you know you have a problem. In this environment they are all-powerful, and will not hesitate to use that power against you.

That goes double because you are a white, straight, Christian male, and they will automatically take the word of anyone who is not over yours. So keep your mouth shut, your profile low, and your eyes on the prize.

Don’t be unfriendly, but don’t invest too much in the friends you make here, in four years you will all be headed back to your own states and in five or six you won’t remember each other.

Stay the hell away from the girls here. You are not a star athlete, you are not a star anything, and one ill-chosen word or one touch taken the wrong way can be fatal to your college career. You will be 22 when you leave here and that will leave you plenty of time to find the woman you will marry in an environment where she can’t stop your life before it starts.

Stay the hell away from alcohol and drugs. Period.

Stay the hell away from fraternities. Nothing good and a lot of bad comes of everything they do. Also stay the hell away from activism. The sixties were fifty years ago and they are not going to come again. The real power players in this world do not care about the opinions of a few young people. I’m not saying don’t get involved, but keep your involvement to activities you actually enjoy and might get something out of, as long as it doesn’t take your eyes off the prize.

This above all: remember who is paying the bills and why I sent you here. You worked hard to get admitted, but if your tuition is not being paid the school will not hesitate to bodily dump you outside the gates. If your grades don’t measure up, if I hear anything about any kind of substance abuse, if I hear anything about any kind of misbehavior, I will not hesitate to cease paying your tuition immediately and send you to make your own way in the world. I know this last set of standards sounds vague. It is deliberately so. You have been given a great privilege here, which you must prove yourself to be deserving of every day. Please nod to indicate you understand, there is no need for a verbal response.”

64 thoughts on “Comment of the Day #2: Advice From A Father To His Hypothetical College Freshman Son, In Reaction To “Ethics Observations On The Old Dominion University Signa Nu Fraternity Freakout”

  1. It’s definitely responsible advice, and advice that many college students need to hear. I’d hope, though, that once people learn to meet the standards of this advice, they could go a bit beyond, and start being proactive about what they learn and what they do. The status quo always needs (rational) people to pay attention to how it can be improved.

    Tomorrow, I am hosting a meeting to discuss a new educational paradigm. We’re going to organize a movement to help educate people as you describe, and soon after we get started we’ll be extending our influence to primary education.

  2. I would differ with the “stay away from the girls” advise. The girls going to college are not all nutty feminists and many great relationships are made there. Of course when I was in college what happened off campus stayed off campus. Most of the guys respected the girls enough so when they said “no” we backed off. I guess that sadly, things have changed.

      • Oh where, oh where is the ACLU when male college student are unjustly accused of criminal behavior? Nowhere to be found I guess.

    • “The girls going to college are not all nutty feminists and many great relationships are made there.”

      This is true. However, the difference between the girls you want and the girls you don’t is hidden well enough that the only way to find out is to get close enough to be in trouble if she’s a bad one. You’re gambling with your future.

  3. “The professors will not remember you after you have finished their course, but while you are in it and while you are here, they are holding all the cards. They want you to give back exactly what they give you, so do it. You will need letters of recommendation for graduate school and performance is the best way to get them.”

    This is true for trade schools (eg., law school, which I found out way too late, like twenty years into practice) but a depressing way to view an undergraduate education. If the hypothetical son were to follow this, he’d be on track to becoming a politician or a political consultant. He’d be able to discern and give to people “what they want.”

    In college, I took courses I thought would be interesting. Among the ones I took and never went back to where anthropology, sociology, music, history, philosophy, art history, religion. I was an English major. We had no distribution requirements. I was a kid in a candy store. I had no idea I was supposed to get good grades and a high class ranking. I was there to explore areas I’d never see again. Many of which were dead ends.

    But it was a great experience and the good professors (almost all of them) didn’t much care for weeny-butts. It was just a great time to be around really smart adults that were genuinely interested in their field and in teaching young people (only God knows why). The school still exists but it’s no longer the same.

    • I got so furious at the end of “Paper Chase,” when Prof. Kingsfield couldn’t recall the name of the law student that he had engaged in epic battles with and who dated his daughter, that it ruined the movie for me. It was as if Richard Gere had been snubbed that way by his drill sergeant at the end of “An Officer and a Gentleman.” 1) Ridiculous 2) Unbelievably insulting. I would have told the professor off right there in the elevator, and yes, I really would.

      • Agreed. I can talk to professors I had forty-five years ago as if I just walked out of one of their classes. The very best thing about small, residential colleges with primarily full professors and no graduate assistants. Hamilton now has a lot of part timers who commute because they have spouses at other schools. Not that any of that keeps tuition under $55K a year.

  4. “Stay the hell away from the girls here.”
    Madness !

    What if, instead of “avoid the girls”, you advise him to record all conversations, and get notarized letters of consent for sexual activity, signed by all parties? Back when I was young and unmarried, the idea of avoiding the girls at school would have been like going to an all you can eat buffet for a drink of water

      • P.S. When you try to stack up against the jut-jawed rich kid or the football hero, like most average-looking, ordinary young men, you will always be second best to vacuous, busty sorority girls who will never look better and never be more appealing than they are now. Most of them would rather wait for the guy with the looks and the money than bother with ordinary guys like you. Keep your head down, your pride under, your desire tamed, your eyes in your books, and keep reminding yourself that in 10 years those brainless beauties’ beauty wI’ll disappear and some will look like two lumps of bread dough stacked together.

  5. “That goes double because you are a white, straight, Christian male, and they will automatically take the word of anyone who is not over yours. So keep your mouth shut, your profile low, and your eyes on the prize.”

    Really? No one has a problem with this paragraph? Or am I the only “nutty feminist” who does?

    • Only nutty feminists have a problem with the truth. A WSCM who has a conflict with anyone who isn’t will automatically lose, because the conflict won’t be judged on the merits. He’ll just be declared a racist, a homophobe, an anti-Semite/islamophobe/whatever, or a sexist/predator, and it’s game over, thank you for playing, you have 24 hours to collect your personal belongings,vacate your room and leave campus, this decision is final and not subject to any appeal, no tuition refund.

      • Actually there are organizations around that are fighting these Stalinist tactics at the universities. One is FIRE (Freedom of Individual Rights in Education). I don’t know how effective they’ve been.

        • Sometimes very much so, sometimes not so much. However, your best bet is to not get yourself in a situation where you need their help, i.e. stay off the dating scene. Heck, just as extra insurance, I’d even spring for a fake photo and frame of my son’s “high school sweetheart” who’s going to school somewhere else and who he is devoted to. If he’s going to school on the east coast, she’s going to school in California. If he’s in Chicago, she’s in Florida, and so on, anyplace that’s far enough away that traveling would be very expensive. The guys won’t invite him to events to meet girls, the girls will stay away, and my son graduates without having to deal with feminazi bullshit.

      • I might just come up with an expanded essay about how a lot of women out there are simply interested in getting their hand-chosen partner and either using or destroying other men. Thankfully, as a middle-aged and average looking man I do not need to worry about being sought after, and as long as I keep my head down and my mouth shut, I don’t need to worry about someone trumping up a bullshit harassment case.

      • This is not about being PC. It is about being rational. White men dominate leadership in our universities, our governments, and our corporations. It must have been such a struggle to get there given how oppressed you all are at every turn.

        • We’re talking getting into and through university now, when those white men in charge have all he backbone of gelatin, especially when faced with a frothing feminist or angry black lives matter activist.

          • Frothing feminist? Nothing but hate spews from you when you talk about women and gays Steve.

            One of my white (middle of the road moderate) male friends bought me a t-shirt once that says, “This is what a radical feminist looks like.” I wear it all the time — usually with full make-up and my hair done.

            Feminism seeks nothing more than asking for equality. That’s it. Sure you have wacko groups on universities demanding silly things like consent letters for sex and things like that, but universities always have wacko groups of every flavor. Most people know such things are stupid — including radical feminists like myself.

            • I know you are, but what am I? And I have a few t-shirts that might get your attention too, like one of a Crusader and the slogan “Don’t tread on Christians,” another one that says “Armed Infidel,” and my personal favorite, “72 Virgins comin’ right up!” as you stare down the barrel of a gun.

              The original point I made is that a white, straight, Christian male student can’t get a fair shake in the disciplinary process on most college campuses, because he alone is a member of a class that has no protection. When faced with a member of a protected class, the scale pretty much automatically tips, the truth of the matter aside. I haven’t heard one factual challenge to this here, and not from you, just a lot of feminist huffing and puffing.

              I am the feminist’s worst nightmare, an articulate, intelligent conservative who is not a co-worker they can cow by threatening to trump up some bullshit story about him trying to touch them or flirt with them, or a significant other they can bring into line by withholding sex.

              • I don’t agree with your statement about white men not getting a fair shake at campuses. It’s ridiculous. The most common interaction between the sexes and the administration involve allegations of date rape. Those allegations may or may not be true, but universities try to make those cases go away. That’s a fact. Indeed, they usually encourage women to let the university handle it as opposed to the police because they don’t want the publicity.

                • And the university handles it by, at the mildest, throwing the guy in the room with some assistant dean who tells him he has two choices, confess and face a one-semester suspension and sensitivity training, or fight it and be expelled, since the universities, especially private ones, don’t have to extend constitutional rights and can dismiss a student for any reason or no reason. The guy not only has to face this daunting choice, he has to face the consequences for his future and with his family, even if he takes the lesser choice, both are FUBAR.

                  On the other hand, if an accusation of date rape actually goes to the police and the DA, then all those protections like right to counsel, right to a fair trial, etc., attach, and her word against his (which is usually what date rape boils down to) might not be enough for a conviction, meaning NO consequences can attach there, and the school is put in the unenviable position of either readmitting the guy or disregarding the verdict and throwing him out of school anyway, which looks terrible.

                  Like I said, avoiding the dating scene altogether is sometimes the best approach. You can’t be accused of harassing someone you haven’t even met, and you can’t be accused of date raping someone at a party you didn’t attend, although if a young woman decides to try to blame you for something anyway you had better be able to conclusively prove you were somewhere else. You better also hope to God that the college officials have enough integrity to actually consider the word of a dinner companion or study partner, or the librarian who stamped your book out when you were supposed to have done something you shouldn’t have, or the music practice room or computer lab guy who signed you in and out during the time she says you had your way despite her saying no. Sound farfetched? Don’t be too sure.

                    • I’m not the one making outrageous claims that the most successful group in recorded history (White Christian Men) is under attack.

                      But never fear, you’re too smart for those wily women in your office who lay awake at night scheming of ways to entrap you in some salacious office sex scandal.

                    • If you don’t see that they are you are just being willfully blind. They are the only class that has no protection at any level, until maybe when they hit whatever age is considered protected. When you have no protection and the other side is protected because of their color, who they like to kiss, or what is or isn’t between their legs, who usually wins? I’m not just making this up, ether, I am personally acquainted with white male students who have had brushes for no reason. One was called in by the Dean of Students and told a female student who he had never even met and could not recognize in a photo had claimed he harassed her. Another was accused of making harassing phone calls to some other female student who he didn’t know and, when he offered to produce his phone bill as proof that he had done no such thing, was rebuffed, and told the point was this person didn’t want to know him, so stay away under penalty of expulsion.

                      Oh yes, then there were the foursome who posted a mildly anti-feminist poster on their hall, a male hall where a female student had no business being in the first place, and a female student who was there getting some decided to whine to the dean of students. They were made to write a public apology under penalty of expulsion when the dean should have asked this person what she was doing on a hall she didn’t live on in the first place and told her she didn’t get to set policy on postings campus-wide.

                      Outrageous nothing. And yes, I am too smart to get caught up in some scandal, though my office thankfully does not have any eye candy co-workers and this summer we got no law school interns to catch our eyes or engage in flirty chit-chat.

            • My favorite definition is this one: “Feminism is the radical idea that women are people.”

              Remembered often enough, it can break the habit of thinking of “people” as male by default.

              • How, exactly, does that definition track with the argument that we “need” a woman President, even if that woman has no discernible leadership skills and is untrustworthy, dishonest and unlikable? I think you meant the other definition, “Feminism is the radical idea that women are superior people, and uniquely qualify to decide whether a healthy unborn infant should live or die.”

                • It doesn’t. This is the type of feminism that posits that all women and girls are six degrees of Awesome simply by virtue of being female, that men are to be just barely tolerated as long as they go along with this, and that life is going to be an easy walk in pink sneakers to success.

                  • The inevitable cultural backlash is coming, though. The natural order can only be defied for so long, especially when it’s so obnoxious.

                • That’s BS. I, along with my other radical feminist friends, voted AGAINST Hillary in the primaries against Obama. We also didn’t jump ship and vote for Palin when there was no female on the Democratic ticket.

                  We don’t “need” a female President. We would “like” a female President, assuming she was qualified for the job.

                  • If it’s BS, Beth, where are all these “I’ll vote for Hillary because she’s a woman, because that’s enough” coming from? (Remember this?) Why is Debbie Wasserman Schultz, avowed feminist, blocking for her, and delaying the debates in which she will be exposed as shallow, cynical and possibly brain damaged? The fact that there are rational feminists is like the fact that most Muslims are peaceful. The ones who make all the noise and have the greatest impact, as well as defining the brand are not rational. It’s up to a rational majority to do something about it other than saying, “Those people with the megaphone don’t speak for me!”

                    • So, you are making broad statements based on what a few politicians and talking heads are saying? That’s not rational. That’s like basing how all Republicans think based on what Trump is spewing. Again, if feminists REALLY thought that way, HC would have been the nominee in 2008. Or, we would have voted for Palin because … as you have been saying lately … vagina.

                      That’s not how we think and that’s not how we act. You are drinking way too much kool-aid.

                    • Polls say otherwise. NOW says otherwise. The official line of the Democratic Party says otherwise. How is that “Koolaid”? Literally the only reason Hillary has any candidacy at all is the “War on Women” trope, and the “it’s time for a female President” logic—which Hillary says, repeatedly.

                      How can you deny that? Show me any feminist pundit or author or activist who has criticized Hillary. (I’ve looked.)

                    • Good grief. You are hopeless. You seem to confuse group identity with brain-washing. Yes, there is a block of women who will vote for Hillary over Biden or Sanders because she’s female. And there are Black people who only will vote for Black candidates — and there are White people who only will vote for White candidates. And some of these people aren’t even bigots or “frothing man-haters” — just when presented with a slate of (in their minds) qualified candidates, they are going to choose the person they identify with the most. They might not even realize they are doing it. If presented with two, equally-qualified candidates, I can imagine you voting for someone who is a huge G&S fan.

                      So, your problem seems to be that Hillary is actually saying those words out loud instead of in code. To me, I actually prefer the rhetoric out loud and in clear English. That’s why Trump is doing well. He’s an ass, but he doesn’t have a hidden agenda (well, actually any agenda as far as I can tell).

                    • No, it’s bad in code or out loud. It’s bad to make the argument.
                      People who vote for white people because they are white are called, correctly, bigots and racists. People who vote for blacks and women because of skin color and physical construction are called “the Democratic base,” loyal and progressive.

                      There is no such thing as two, equally-qualified candidates. Basing a vote for office on something irrelevant like theatrical preferences is letting cognitive dissonance rule logic–only people who are unaware of CD would do that. Give me some credit.

                      Of course, I would vote for the one that’s a Red Sox fan, but that’s only reasonable….

                • What I meant was that when called upon to picture a generic person, that imaginary person will more often than not be male, or at least that was true for me for a while. I think it’s also influenced by what you’re asked to picture the person doing, because historical gender roles led to males doing most of the interesting or impressive tasks and females performing tasks that focused on support (though both gender roles contained some tasks involving finesse and some involving drudgery), and that history carries over into our popular mental images of tasks being performed.

                  However, a more concrete point is that in the English language and pretty much every other language with gendered pronouns, if you’re talking about a person of unknown gender or a hypothetical person, it’s very common to just use male pronouns by default. If you use female pronouns, on the other hand, people assume you know the person is female.

                  It’s also very common to use the phrase “a man” when talking about principles or psychological traits that are generally true for people in general (e.g. “give a man a fish…”, or the riddle of the Sphinx), whereas “a woman” is usually reserved for traits that are believed to be female-specific.

                  Now do you see where I’m coming from?

                    • I’m confused. Are you expressing a wish for the “generic human is male” status quo I mentioned above to remain? If so, why? Assuming a person is male unless otherwise noted doesn’t seem very useful to me, considering that roughly half of all humans are female.

                  • I am. Because it’s getting ridiculous, and I’m in less and less of a helpful mood with each day’s new left-wing outrage and display of insanity. I walked by a sign the other day by the bursar’s office at school, that said “Ombudsperson’s office”. Fucking lunacy. I’m so utterly sick and tired of the whining, sniveling, and being offended. Now, I WANT to offend. I want to push back. These psychos SHOULD be pushed back. There is a list of “trigger statements” about modern-day facts that can no longer be uttered in Massachusetts universities. I’m doing my level best to find it, so I can read it in my various classes and post it on every bulletin board.

                    • Wow. Some of those are so silly, they’re dangerous. Sloppy language is dangerous, because it leads to sloppy thinking. Language that adds more words while meaning the same thing is doubleplusungood. Language that adds more words while meaning something different, while the original word is prohibited is… not helpful. Speaking as a person of pallor, I find nothing offensive about the term “Caucasian.” Please tell me that no non-Caucasians find it offensive to use the term “Caucasian.”

                      That said, I do like having the option not to specify the gender of a person if it’s irrelevant to the topic at hand. Traditional pronouns quite literally treat gender as the single most important quality of a person, the quality that you need to know even if you know absolutely nothing else about them, and I think that leads to sloppy thinking. It leads to people thinking that gender is an important character trait in and of itself.

                    • I think that the bigger issue is that this epidemic of Butthurt and oversensitivity is going to lead to language legislation, and essentially the full-scale deployment of the thought police one day. At least, that’s what we seem to be zeroing in on. The existence of hate crime supports this theory.

        • So, is that a matter of equality of opportunity, or equality of outcome? Because the left often get the two confused, and if you don’t believe the former exists, what’s the evidence, other than the fact that men “dominate” in these areas. That alone doesn’t constitute proof that opportunity is lacking, and that’s all that should matter.

  6. Steve-O-in-NJ:

    Sage advice. Yes, it is. We had a similar conversation with our 6th grader on Monday night. Our son is 11 and he was grousing about his Math teacher because his Math teacher wants him to show his work on tests and homework assignments. My recommendation: “Do it. In his class, he is emperor supreme overlord grand poobah. He wants to see that you got the correct answer but more importantly, he wants to see that you know the steps to get the correct answer. He is there to teach you – why go to war over an equation step?”


    • I might add something to the effect of “you don’t have to like it, you just have to do it.” P.S. I used to loathe that way of doing mathematics also, since it felt like the teacher was more interested in making the students jump through hoops than in the right answers.

    • Yes. Even if you are able to get the answer without writing down the intermediate steps, your teacher can’t really know that. As well, for a good teacher, I’d think that teaching students how to solve a problem would be more important than their simply getting the correct answer. If they don’t know how they got the answer they probably don’t know how to really solve the problem. Teaching them to think is the key element.

  7. I dated a feminist at one of the most liberal schools in the most liberal cities. She was wonderful in more ways than several. I didn’t marry her and she doesnt compare to my wife, but I’m a much better person because of it.

        • Since feminism is incorrectly named anyway, it should be called anti-feminism, as for the most part it is borne out the most self-denying penis-envy of all. I’d submit that simple feminism, like the emasculated male ideal created in the 90s, would taste much more like tepid water that’s been sitting out for a few days – a dull, un-envigorated shadow of what it really wants to be: the unveiled glory of true Femininity. But hey, since the gender revolution, we’ve all become shadows of what we ought to be. BOOOOOOOOOORING!

          • You’re right, texagg04. In the PoMo world, everything is a construct of human device, including gender. But these constructs are evil only in the West, and only if there are white Christian males to blame them on. Human nature is the same everywhere, but to feminists, cultural Marxists and other progressives, human nature does evil things (like making constructs) only if it pertains to white Christian males in the western world. Everyone other than white Christian males is a victim of white Christian males.

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