They say that to a hammer everything is a nail. After a full-bore orientation at an obscenely expensive liberal arts college (“OELAC”) in the Midwest, I can say with some confidence that to OELAC’s administrators every incoming freshman is a bundle of pathologies. Really. During one talk, we were assured that around 30% of incoming freshman have mental health issues. It seems to me that OELAC’s administrators see it as their responsibility to make sure that this number grows to 100% by the end of the academic year.
I wrote the other day about the absurd welcoming ceremony that OELAC held, one that managed to feel much like my children’s graduation from preschool only infinitely more creepy. This drive simultaneously to infantilize and pathologize these young adults continued yesterday when we parents were gathered together for a formal orientation talk.
I foolishly thought the talk would be along the lines of “Welcome to OELAC! Your children will learn and grow here. Now go forth and enjoy the delights of this lovely midwestern city before you kiss your kids goodbye.” I could not have been more wrong.
Before I even get to the content, I want to note that, as was the case for the preschool graduation . . . er, parade of the freshman class, four of the five speakers were women. Incidentally, I know that the other person, that one out of the five, not only looked like a man, but identified as a man, because he proudly announced that his pronouns were “he” and “him.”
Disappointingly, the orientation had nothing to do with “Your child will learn and mature here.” Instead, the assembled administrators announced that they were going to talk about “wellness,” which seems to be academic code for cultivating that special snowflake quality in each young person foolish enough to go to OELAC. (And don’t get me started on how Little Bookworm ended up there. It’s a painful tale, best left untouched.)
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised at this announcement about “wellness.” I’d already noticed earlier that the freshman’s schedule for the day did not have a mere “break.” Instead, the freshman had “wellness breaks.” Ordinary breaks of the type these kids all had growing up in preschool, elementary school, middle school, and high school, and that we adults still have at work, are inadequate for snowflakes in training.
To my great distress (I think I was actually triggered!), I got to witness a “wellness break” in action later that same afternoon. One couldn’t miss it because at least 20 of these 18- and 19-year-olds, after the rigors of a few hours of orientation, were clustered around — I kid you not — an honest-to-goodness “therapy dog.” The kids weren’t even relating to it like a real dog. They were clustered around it trying to suck in wellness. It was unnerving to watch.
(By the way, did you know that anxious dogs also need therapy? Yes, here in America we have treatment for your Triggly Ruff.)
Back to that orientation. . . .