Depression, Recovery and Higher Education: A Report by Committee Y of the American Association of University Professors. The Draft of This Report Was Prepared by Malcolm M. Willey

By Malcolm M. Willey; American Association of University Professors | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
STUDENT IDEOLOGIES AND THE DEPRESSION

THE concern of students is not solely with classrooms, courses, grades, and other matters directly associated with problems of academic learning. Nor is it confined to the economic problems that were outlined in the preceding chapter. Students also have attitudes toward a wide range of matters of general importance, and occupy themselves, often diligently, with them. They are "for" this or "against" that; they believe in the "fundamental principles" as enunciated by the spokesman of a political party. They abhor war to the point of pacifism, and strive for peace by advocating preparedness. They are devotees of football, fraternities, bridge, or moving pictures; they daydream of marriage; they meet to discuss birth control, socialism, religion, the single tax, communism, democracy, atheism, and countless other topics of social concern. They decry the stodginess of age and proclaim the wisdom of youth. They defer to their elders and refuse to take each other seriously. At one moment they exhibit an intense seriousness concerning current problems; at another, they are indifferent to the world about them. In short, students are young human beings, with all the faults and virtues of human beings, and with all the enthusiasms that characterize youth.

Heterogeneity of Student Populations. The students in institutions of higher education are drawn from every type of home and every class of contemporary society, although, admittedly, there is weighting in the direction of the upper side of an occupational scale. The American population is a mixed one, racially, economically, socially, occupationally. Every shade of opinion, and the entire scale of attitudes on every conceivable subject, has its representatives. With the extension of education to include a larger proportion of the public, and especially with the development of public higher education, the character of the college campus has naturally undergone modification. There is an increase in the number of students from homes of lower occupational and economic status. There is, as has already been pointed out, a selective factor at work that produces institutions of different types, but this does not operate in a rigid or exclusive manner. With students drawn from families of a wider occupational and economic range, and

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