College reveals so much

Writer’s history is naked truth

"Choose a major in college you love, and you'll never work a day in your life -- because that field probably isn't hiring."-- Attributed to Confucius or possibly my father

Warning to the reader: This column contains references to nudity, questionable past behavior on the part of the writer and a critique on several popular societal tropes about college. Please exercise caution if you decide to keep reading. Especially about the nudity part.

Headlines about the college cheating scandal have dominated the news lately, and the salacious involvement of such high-profile television actors such as the one who played Aunt Becky on the show Full House shook some boomers to their nostalgic core. But are we really surprised when some rich people try to evade the rules and buy special access and favors with their money? Isn't that what the Universal theme park Express Pass is at its core? The regular types stay in the "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" line for four hours wishing they had packed lunch in their fanny packs while those rich elites cruise through the special entrance in minutes.

While all societies, writes the journalist Barbara Boland, engage in myth-making about themselves, the myth of meritocracy may be our most persistent and damaging belief. The idea that people rise to their level of prominence based on their own hard work and effort, she says, is a prized thought in our society. But certainly, most of us become aware that for the rich or connected, different rules apply. Just look at the last three Vietnam War eligible presidents we've had; all three used privilege to either get deferments or National Guard status that regular folks couldn't.

Many people think that a college education can create even greater opportunity for that merit to multiply. Are we surprised when the elites think they can purchase an "express pass" for that, too? Of course, Mark Twain put it best when he wrote: "All schools, all colleges, have two great functions: to confer, and to conceal, valuable knowledge." And that got me thinking about my own college experience.

When I told mt mother I wanted to attend Florida State University, her first words were "I can't pay for it, but if you do, sounds great." (Call her the anti-Aunt Becky.) Still, she wished me well, and off I went to the big school. I was quickly told by fellow students that my preferred majors of either history or journalism were foolish because you couldn't make a living from them. I did notice the university was only too happy to take my money on whatever subject struck my fancy. Confused, I dutifully signed up for more basic fare, saddened by the lack of academic freedom and learning I had naively expected. Then, on my third day on campus, it happened.

The fad was called "streaking," which entailed taking your clothes off and running around in public. That night as I walked back from the school cafeteria, I saw huge crowds of students swirling around like migratory geese except on the ground. Here, there, almost everywhere, emboldened male and female students would speed by naked. I must admit it was more exciting than the economics lecture I had endured that afternoon. After an hour of moon gazing, I decided to head back to my dorm. As I crossed a crowded street, suddenly a Domino's Pizza delivery car pulled right up beside me, the driver got out, held a pizza box over his head and shouted: "A free large pizza to the first female streaker on the hood of my car!" Almost immediately a young coed standing next to me responded with perhaps alcoholic-induced enthusiasm "OK!" Using my shoulder to hoist herself up on the hood, she preceded to make good on that free pizza.

As I gazed upwards, I thought that indeed perhaps college did have something to teach me. And while I didn't change my major, I did minor in history just for me. And that is the naked truth.

NAN Our Town on 03/21/2019

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