Rich college student "liberal" dabblers must die.

I am liberal. I am about as liberal as it gets. I am a freaking leftist. So this rant pains me. I dig the fact that I go to an extremely liberal university. I dig my fellow students. One would think I’d dig my fellow liberal students.

Sadly, that can’t be.

I was on the bus this morning, happily going to class. Behind me, two girls are talking about their plans for the summer. Typical college student stuff. Then the subject of Colorado comes up.

“Like, I hear there is this Buddist co-op in Colorado and I think I am going to visit there this summer” says a girl that in any other decade would have been a debutante
“Oh wow. It is so cool that they are like living out their beliefs and all” says girl #2.
“Yeah, like, they are even vegetarian there!!! It is so brave.”

Look, people, liberalism is not the sort of thing you do as a tourist. Stopping by a co-op full of other rich white wanna-be buddists on your way to your daddy’s cabin is not a humanitarian effort. Why don’t you use the money you’d spent on a plane ticket on something useful? I know a lot of kids in the neighborhood I grew up in would be happy to have something other than ramen and toast to eat at the end of the month while you are out cavorting with those brave Colorado vegetarians who have probably never know a moment of hunger in their life. Patting yourself on the back for visiting a co-op is not exactly the kind of political action that is going to acheive anything in this country.

It gets worse. They start talking about their classes.

Although my university has a reputation as a slacker haven, there are some majors that are damn hard. In my major (film) we are expected to be writing publishable material by our second year. We encounter readings that arn’t usually touched until well in to grad school. We work our asses off, and we come out with an awesome education.

But then there is the Community Studies major.

In the Community Studies major, you take a smattering of random classes with no real direction except that they all involve some sort of arm-chair liberalism. I did a community studies course once that consisted mostly of sitting on couches in the women’s center and bitching about life and reading fairly simplistic feminist musings. It was a great class- we all need to take a break every once in a while and do something fun. But it isn’t the sort of thing that you can make a major out of. In the interest of fairness, Community Studies chooses to keep their classes lower division and open to non-majors. In other words, there are no classes that delve deeper than a single quarter’s worth of work. There is no core material that is then expanded on and challenged in upper division classes. But hey, nothing wrong with a somewhat easy major, right?

The crowing glory of the Community Studies major is the field study. You spend two quarters not doing any schoolwork whatsoever. Instead you participate in some kind of project that “helps” some kind of community. Although options exist in the area, almost all Community Studies majors get their daddies to finance long trips to wonderfully exotic third world countries, where they can then gush about all the epiphanies and self realization that they gained from being around people that are neither rich nor white. Actually learning anything or doing something useful never seems to factor in. It is all about feeling empowered and fulfilled by your third-world experience.

It is the perfect major for kids who are only going to college so that they can get a couple more years of full support out of their parents.

So these girls are Community Studies majors. One of the girls didn’t have a single class…she got credits for an independent study where she apparently just reads books in order to prepare herself for her field study hanging out with strawberry workers in Watsonville. Nothing wrong with helping out Strawberry workers in Watsonville- heck, my boyfriend does computers for the AFW, but it isn’t exactly the sort of thing that you need a whole quarter’s worth of background reading for. At this point in your life, in this part of the state, Mexicans should not be so exotic that you need a huge amount of preparation to begin working with them. I just can’t help but think what these poor strawberry workers are going to do when these well dressed blonde college students desend on to them as their pet project. Don’t these girls see a little bit of a problem with the fact that they are well fed, well financed college students using these people as a mix of gunia pigs and lab rats as they BS their way through a college career that these strawberry workers could never dream of providing for their kids. Does that ever bother them in the least?

The other “classes” mentioned were no better. One of the girls was getting five credits for working at the on campus natural food co-op. Yeah, helping hippies get their four dollar bottles of Odwalla is really helping the community and providing a valuable education. The other girl talked about how she was doing multiple education abroad trips (which are known more for parties with cute foreign boys than academic challenges- this girl was going to New Zealand, no doubt to get out of any language requirements). Why are you going to college if you have no intention of doing something that remotely betters yourself or others???

That’s right…you can afford to.

I’m a little bitter. I work my ass off and starve on a regular basis so that I can go to college. A lot of people I grew up with didn’t even get the chance to do that. Why do these girls get to waltz around doing absolutely nothing and still get to pat themselves on the back about how wonderfully liberal they are and how wonderful good that is? Why do they get to gush about how going to a protest made them feel so “empowered” (hint: protesting is for causing change and that sort of thing- not making the participants feel all good about themselves) when people are going hungry, starving, and living in worlds with no oppertunities? GGGGrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!

Please grow up or get off my bus!!!

So at what point and by what methods could they in fact develop a social conscience and experience personal growth? Or are they completely beyond hope?

It’s so much harder looking at morons who have the same political views as you, but for all the wrong reasons, than morons on the other side, isn’t it?

I got a fair amount of heckling in college for being the ‘rich kid’ because I didn’t work during the school year for 3 out of the 4 years. Granted, I had things pretty well off, but I did work my ass off over the summer, put darn near everything in savings, then spend very little during the year (except that I liked to treat my friends to occasional nights out because I knew that I could afford things easier and I didn’t want them to worry about money). To be honest, I could have simply worked during the year and taken fewer classes, but in the end out-of-state tuition made it worth my family’s while for me to get in and get out as soon as was possible.

Yeah, it’s hard to watch rich kids who squander what they have. It’s also hard to watch the football atheletes get anything they want handed to them by the school, funded by your tuition. It’s hard, in the arts, to see your department struggling desperately for funding and losing, but to see the sciences and the business college getting brand new buildings. Welcome to college, where, like life, things ain’t always fair.

You know, I am with you on this, but I have to see the “big picture”.

And the “big picture” is that you are acquiring a real education, and are learning real skills. You are learning real life lessons, that will carry you through to the rest of your life.

These silly gits are learning little, (at least as far as we can tell). If they continue to be as shallow as you perceived them to be, sooner or later, it’ll catch up with them. In some way or other, they’ll end up “wanting” something more, and will realize that they blew their college years on meaningless drivel.

I remember one of my friends getting all worked up about a fellow student in her art class (she was majoring in metal arts). This other girl had all the breaks. Was rich, spoiled, had connections, everthing fell into place for her. But she (this spoiled girl) was BAD at metal art. She was BAD, but didn’t know it, because everything came so easy for her (through her family connections, etc.). She should have been pitied - she had no real ability in the thing that she was majoring in. She was being deluded. It’s sad, really.

I saw the same thing when I was in art scool. Privileged “wannabe” artists who didn’t really want to do any work, they just wanted to “act” like artists, and be considered as “arty”. But they were BAD artists - because being a good artist requires WORK! And they weren’t into that. And they thought I was silly and geeky because I was into working hard. Well, phooey on them. You put nothing into college, you get nothing out of college. What a waste of tuition money.

These folks may be having a lark now, having everything fall into place for them, rest assured, it won’t last forever. In the end, study, learning, and hard work are what get you places. Your success, your feeling of pride over a hard-earned accomplishment will be your best revenge. These “dabbler” types won’t ever understand or experience that feeling of satisfaction. They are wasting their time, and aren’t getting their (daddy’s) money’s worth out of their education. What a bummer.

I know, I know, this is about liberalism. But it just as easily could be about art. These “dabbler” types are pretty common in the art world.

Especially metal arts, which are entirely different than “mental arts”…

Damn I need to just go to sleep.

All I want to know is, when will I be safe?

In the interests of full disclosure, I’ll confess that I’m a university student whose parents are comfortably well-off. (Horrors!)

Was it enough to move out of their house and live in poverty to demonstrate my class solidarity? (Am I tainted each time they bring over another box of cat litter after they go to the store?) Will running for election (a second time) be enough to demonstrate my commitment or sincerity?

What, oh what will be enough to escape the taint of undergraduate champagne socialism?

(And why is it that nobody ever doubts the sincerity of conservative college students’ beliefs, rich or poor?)

Ask yourself: if you are a leftist, would you rather these overprivileged people had liberal or conservative beliefs? Every little counts, these days.

Good point, jjimm.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt and George W. Bush were both overprivileged rich kids who attended hoity-toity schools and universities. Which one do you like better as Prez, sven?

Oh, I certainly do, Matt. It’s just that there are so few of them compared to neo-liberals.

My younger sister is a pinko freak. She’s actually very sincere - she works as an investigator for a public interest legal service that works on death penalty cases, and has an extensive resume of work for community service and leftist political causes.

All well and good. She’ll grow out of it. :wink:

She has decided to go to law school, so that she can be an attorney for some or another public interest law group or advocacy organization. She emailed me a little while back, very excited, because she had been accepted by NYU School of Law.
She wasn’t sure she was going to go to NYU, though. While she thought it was a great school, she didn’t look forward to going to school with a bunch of stupid rich kids.

I responded, “Hate to be the one to tell you, but you are a ‘stupid rich kid.’”

Yeah, stupid is my own opinion (hey, she’s my baby sister - of course she’s stupid :D), but rich is freaking clear. Poor kids don’t grow up in a house, abutting a golf course, that is probably worth a cool million. Poor kids don’t go to elite liberal arts colleges free of student loans. And poor kids don’t take off two months before starting law school (also likely to be free) so they can travel around the world (admittedly on the cheap).

Ah, the self-delusion of youth.


She’ll grow out of that angle too… :smiley: IPR, anyone?

That’s because the conservative college kids are too worried about getting a job and making a lot of money then they are about showing off how much they care.

BTW: social democrats (“left wingers”) and neo-liberals are not the same thing. Quite the opposite, in fact. Compare the term “neoliberal globalization,” which does not mean “globalization as pushed by anti-globalization activists”.

Wouldn’t that be how they’re showing that they care (about conservatism, that is)?

matt_mcl, I think the OP is more frustrated with the “dabbling” in liberal causes, rather than the fact that the students are liberals.

I liken it to the proto-Goth students at my old college (lo, these many years ago). A small handful of students dressed all in black and moaned about how difficult life was for them, all was entropy and chaos, and nothing was worthwhile. Immediately thereafter, they’d get all excited about the upcoming U2 concert and complain how difficult it was to score tickets, since their credit cards were maxed out “and Dad is threatening to stop paying my car insurance if I don’t at least TRY to live on a budget.”

It’s the rare student who fully embraces an idea or cause, as you seem to have done. Frankly, the vast majority are still insulated from the realities of life (I certainly was). Congrats on living your values.

You know, I don’t think that even sven was bitching about people who happen to both hold liberal political beliefs and be comfortable financially (hell, I fit into that category), but rather attacking those people who believe that “acting” liberal is more important than actually making a difference.

I can certainly relate to that part of the rant. I have about zero tolerance for self-righteous pretentiousness, whether or not I agree with their basic principles. I’d rather see someone out there actually helping things rather than focusing exclusively on “self-improvement” via methods of expensive retreats. These people aren’t wrong, but misguided, and are directing their efforts towards causes that, in the grand sceme of things, are rather unimportant.

There are, however, “rich” liberals who actually do make a difference, who have an accurate view of what will help. I think that sven kind of forgot to mention that. I do resent it when people say that because I’m a relatively well-off (or my parents are, at least) suburban white chick, I don’t know what suffering is, or I can’t honestly support a liberal or humanitarian cause. I know pain on some level; everyone does. I know predjudice; hell, I got enough of it yesterday for participating in the Day of Silence. I know what it’s like to be teased, and what it’s like to miss a couple of meals. I don’t want anyone to have to go through that; I certainly don’t want anyone to go through something that’s probably a million times worse than that.

Snort … Depends on which part of the country you’re in. There’s no shortage of young conservatives at UNC, and having taught quite a few of them, I’m none too convinced of their sincerity either. [Long story about one of my students snipped 'cos it’s only tangentially relevant, and it was turning into a rant in its own right.]

evensven, I don’t know whether this will make you feel any better, but let’s face it, the vast majority of college students are clueless. With rare exceptions (and it sounds like you were one of them), they just haven’t had the life experience to be anything else. Some of them become less clueless faster than others, but in the long run, it’ll happen to most of them, even these girls. While they may be approaching their time in the strawberry fields or their semester abroad with the wrong attitude, who knows, it just might change them. Or if it doesn’t, the first year or two after graduation certainly will. One way or another, people do grow up eventually (heck, I like to think even I did, and looking back on some of the things I thought and did at nineteen, I wouldn’t have given long odds). It all works out in the end.

You tease!

And here I thought it was my imagination.
Oh, and sven, we’re attending the same university.

While I question that being a brave vegetarian in Colorado on your parents’ money is helping the community, they are at least attempting to develop a social conscience, which is more than can be said for many people.

Okay, I do want to see them make a living on minimum wage and shop at thrift stores and yard sales for all their fashion needs. (And yes, I’m aware that many people have it much worse off than this.)

When I saw the thread title, I thought “Wow! Sounds like my alma mater!”

Then I noticed who the OP was. FTR, even sven does in fact attend my alma mater. The delightful place where they tried to outlaw hate (a technicality kept it off the ballot in 2000), have already succeeded in outlawing nuclear weapons, where the city council regularly issues statements concerning foreign policy (they highly disapprove of the Chinese takeover of Tibet - watch out, Beijing!) - and where on any given day, you’ll see kids sleeping on the sidewalk. It’s ever so much more fun to create a pretend liberal paradise than actually try and figure out what to about the pervading problem of homelessness.

Like sven, I am a raging leftist, but the phony liberalism of many students at this university, and many citizens of the town, is irritating as hell.