Perky Conformists Afraid to Talk About Values?
SPU Student Achievers Respond to Brooks’ Characterizations
“Today’s students do not inherit a concrete and articulated moral system. … Not
having a vocabulary to discuss what is good and true, [students think
they will succeed if they] can at least behave well.”
of today’s college students paints a frightening picture of my generation.
It makes us appear to be slightly lacking in conscience, like robots
chained to an empirically quantifiable standard of success. If we can’t
be righteous, at least we can be accomplished.
As the student body president
of my university, a member of the University Scholars program and
an officer in multiple clubs on campus, I am a poster child for what
Brooks calls The Organization Kid. However, I humbly request that his
fellow baby boomers do not jump on Brooks’ bandwagon and assume that I am nothing
but a “perky conformist.” I assure you, I am thoroughly independent.
Brooks mislabels and prejudges my motivation to succeed. It is
not to climb a ladder of achievements because my understanding
of life offers me no other means of finding fulfillment. My motivation
to succeed is based on my understanding of what is “good and true” and of how I can
contribute toward infusing the world with those ideals. I have attempted
to embody the expressions of a moral system — serving others, seeking
and illuminating truth, and loving others through my actions — through
my collegiate endeavors. Though what motivates me thus far in life may
not be able to compete with the hyper-idealism and cynicism of my parents’ generation,
I feel that it is far more noble and far less deterministic than Brooks
claims it is.
SENIOR BUSINESS MAJOR, ASSP PRESIDENT
“When I asked … if they ever felt like workaholics, their faces lit
up ... One [student] said, ‘Sometimes we feel like we’re just tools for
processing information. That’s what we call ourselves — power tools.’”
Brooks! Where were you when I needed you? I could have used your advice
before I signed up for 22 credits, double-booked myself for the next
six Wednesday nights or signed my soul over to higher education in
exchange for a snazzy diploma and an SPU pen.
Seriously, your article
regarding the lives of the current generation of college students spoke
volumes to me, opening my eyes to the stressful environment we create
for ourselves. It would have made the perfect manual for incoming students
to point out our strengths, weaknesses and mortal obsession with being
busy. It seems as if you know us better than we know ourselves (or
better than we care to admit).
Some may argue that you paint today’s college student
with broad generalizations and unfair labels. These people obviously
went to community colleges. For the life of a university student is hardly
a life at all — unless one associates day planners with feeling alive.
generation has a serious scheduling compulsion. We fill our days
and our notebooks to the brim with everything from “meeting with professor” and “psychology
study group” to “wake up” and “breathe evenly.” Fortunately, you opened
my eyes just in time. With my senior year approaching, I see that I must
take easier classes, flee leadership positions and shirk responsibility.
It’s the only way.
I’ve already put it in my planner.
MAJOR, FALCON SPORTS EDITOR
“Although today’s Princeton and today’s
parents impose all sorts of rules to reduce safety risks and encourage
they do not go to great lengths to build
Brooks believes that “something is missing” on campuses around
our nation where The Organization Kid studies and lives. I agree. Most
college students do not define themselves
by something higher and greater than their accomplishments. These accomplishments
are part of an empty search for self.
However, some of us are taking
on the “ultimate challenge.” We have been raised with a strong
sense of character; we take pride in fighting the good fight against
evil. Brooks states that we “live in a country that has lost, in
its frenetic seeking after happiness
and success, the language of sin and character-building through combat
Just because the country as a whole ignores the combat
with sin does not mean that all of our elite students do as well.
In fact, the issue of character-building is written
right into the mission of SPU: “We seek to graduate people of competence
we seek to become people of wisdom; we seek to model a grace-filled
purpose of our education here is not just our academic achievements,
but also the growth of our character and integrity.
In fact, in his lecture on campus, Brooks acknowledged that Seattle
Pacific apparently does not ignore the aspect of how to lead a
good life. Contrary to Brooks’ experience with elite students who are “a little
nervous about the subject [of character],” SPU strives to educate
its students “to become thinking Christians who are able to speak
clearly and intelligently about their convictions.”
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