Thursday, November 16, 2006

Postsecondary Puzzles: Porn, Pells and Public Prostitution

By Richard Vedder

The recent National Survey of Student Engagement suggests that students "work" perhaps 1,000 hours a year, about one-half of that of many adult Americans with full time jobs (they study 13 hours a week and are in class maybe 16 hours --assuming they don't cut class-- and maybe do 3 hours weekly of other academic related things and do this for 30-32 weeks a year). For this very light work load, we heavily subsidize them, with taxpayers financing universities through appropriations and students directly with Pell grants, subsidized loans, etc.

What do students do with the massive amount of free time, given their low work loads? College students have raging hormones, so it is not surprising that sex magazines are growing in popularity at various colleges. Some of these magazines go beyond just talking or writing about erotic things -- they display fully nude college girls and boys in provocative poses. The Boink web site of students at Boston University is a good example. Funded by purchases of their magazine and ads bought by various Internet porno sites, this is a business enterprise run by students, presumably for fun and profit. To the extent they are making money on sex, they are engaging in a form of prostitution.

While the BU administration and those at other colleges generally announce their disgust with such sites, they allow them to continue, no doubt taking the view that the students have their First Amendment right to free expression. I am no prude, believe in free expression, and understand that young people experiment with various forms of dubious behavior, including heavy drinking, recreational drug use, and sex.

My major objection is that the taxpayers are subsidizing this activity. Taxpayer-subsidized private scholarship recipients are spending time which should be used working their minds to working other parts of their bodies. Again, I am no prude, and I am not even condemning premarital sexual activity. I am saying, however, that if we truly challenged our students, they would have far less time to pursue engaging in prurient pleasures at taxpayer expense, a dubious use of scarce public resources.

1 comment:

TC said...

"The Boink web site..." That's really a good one! Thanks for saying something that needs to be said. Students should be part of the productivity/efficiency function of a college.

I would add that non-working students and students with less than a 3.75 to 4.0 GPA should spend 40 hrs/wk in class, studying, and going to/from class. This gives them time for 8 hours sleep, and allows them to boink, drink, and do relatively nothing Friday afternoon through Sunday. That's easy living. I think most would prefer to boink 40 hrs/wk, but even with Viagra, I'm afraid someone could get hurt.

Most professions today require 45 to 50 hours per week of work. Working the minimum is very helpful in working one's way onto the lay-off list. I do not believe the BLS reports actual hours worked for salary exempt workers.

If someone goes to U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics web site - don't forget to add overtime and you may want to check to see if working hours for salary exempt include an estimate of hours worked over the standard 40. I don't think they do as I have not heard of companies reporting such a figure - unless they pay overtime for SE employees - which most do not.