Friday, November 21, 2014

I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future

I've been all wrapped up in the bombshell that Rolling Stone dropped this week about rape and rape culture at the University of Virginia.  Letters of outrage and petitions and laments about what the fuck is going on at our school.

My letter to the University president and other members of the administration can be found over at my friend Theresa Pileggi-Proud's site, You Are Here.  One of the things I talk about is the prospect of sending my own daughter to UVa. when she decides to go to college.  If she were going today, I wouldn't send her there.

But knowing what a problem campus rape is at many schools around the country, I don't know where I would want to send her.

And it's not just the issue of sexual assault.  I look back on my time at college, and while I loved it, socially, the mores were so fucked up and antiquated, particularly within the Greek system.  My best friends from UVa. are my sorority sisters - I am still in contact and very close friends with a significant number of them.  I love them and they are incredibly important to me. But when I look back on the Rush process - with its snap judgments and all night voting sessions that were breeding grounds for cattiness, tears, and fractured friendships - not to mention bronchitis, which I got every single year during Rush - it turns my stomach.  It is exactly the opposite of how I would encourage Josie to approach her friendships and interactions with other human beings.

Then once you're in, there's so much focus on landing a cute guy and being accepted by the right group and having a date to the football game and getting invitations from the "good" fraternities to have mixers.

Ugh.  It's fucking nauseating to think about.  And from what I can tell, not much there has changed.

And who knows.  More and more, I wonder about the value of college at all.  The world is changing so much.  In 13 years, when Josie is 18, the model for preparing yourself for the working world and beyond might have evolved to the point that apprenticeships or similar work/study arrangements are the key to success and upward mobility.  An expensive four-year college education, as the experience currently exists, might be obsolete.

It blows my mind that Zeke will be in high school in eight years, and Josie in nine.  If we stay in the same house, they might attend East High School, which is about 4 blocks from where we live.  I pass it on my way to work sometimes (depending on my route).  It's a beautiful, majestic building.

I just hope by the time they get there, I've imparted enough wisdom on how to be self-confident and tough, yet also kind and empathetic, that they can navigate the social hell that is high school (and beyond) with aplomb.

In the meantime, I'm signing Josie up for martial arts lessons.

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