Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Nude Awakening: The Naked Truth About Ivy League Voyeurism

By Richard Vedder

My sidekick Bryan O'Keefe brings to my attention an article in the Scotsman, Scotland's leading newspaper, about the new "in" social trend at elite American universities -- having naked parties, where participants shed all their clothes. These events are supposedly not sex parties, but a place where student's can shed their inhibitions and have a different experience. According to the story, one participant said it is implicitly agreed that you are allowed one good look at the physique of fellow partygoers, then expected to look at each other at eye level. It is the in thing at Yale, we are told, and is spreading rapidly to wannabe Yales.

This is another example of how the "socialization" dimension of higher education is crowding out the more utilitarian educational dimension. To some extent directly or indirectly, these activities are subsidized by taxpayers. What we have is a bunch of mostly rich kids partying naked at public expense. The colleges, of course, refuse to do anything to stop it, officially not wishing to interfere with freedom of expression, but unofficially not wanting to offend tuition paying kids who are future alumni donors. As to the public, the hedonism, moral relativism, falling academic standards and soaring costs of college campuses are all largely ignored, since everyone wants the certification that colleges provide. Besides, outwardly college has continued to be a decent financial investment for a large percentage of kids.

Maybe I am just jealous, since they did not have these kinds of parties when I went to school. I wonder if 18 year old boys, for example, do not view this as a disguised form of voyeurism, the equivalent of looking into the girl’s locker room in a quasi-legitimate way. But I also wonder if public policy should separate the legitimate teaching and research functions of universities from the social dimensions in a way that assures that funding does not support the latter effort. In fact, I believe that public policy has indirectly and unconsciously promoted this hedonistic behavior in a variety of ways, such as not having much discipline in our K-12 schools, or tolerating a lack of standards, as evidenced by grade inflation, that allows students to party more and work less. Moreover, our financial aid policies often at the margin provide the financial resources to finance some of the partying in the first place. How many of our partying nudists have federal student loans or Pell Grants, for example?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The problem with the gene pool is that there are no lifeguards. the result is various levels of idiocy.