We had the Save Sweet Briar campaign up and running in days. Alumnae I'd never heard of from places I'd never been are talking to us, sending us food, and just generally being amazing people. Seeing hundreds of students and graduates come together to fight for their school has been a wonderful and humbling experience.
Save Sweet Briar
Seriously, 13 million and counting.
But elsewhere, the campus has basically gone chaotic neutral. I'm not saying that packs of feral coeds are devouring everybody left outside after sundown, but people are stealing shit from shower baskets, racking up underage drinking violations, and tearing apart buildings trying to get a piece of memorabilia. I completely understand the impulse -- this place took years of your life and tens of thousands of dollars of your money; the least you deserve is some copper wiring and a mascot head -- but pillaging should be reserved for the post-graduation party, or at the very least, a really unexpected win by the local sports team.
"Uh, didn't we lose?"
"Oh, I don't even watch sports."
It's Not Just A Women's College Issue
Barry Austin Photography/Photodisc/Getty
To the average person, the whole Sweet Briar controversy is nothing but a bunch of snooty rich girls acting all emotional because our finishing school is closing. Here are a few of the comments I saw right after the announcement, from some folks who could have used a college education of their own.
"Locker room interviews aren't the same if you have to wait till people are out of the locker room!"
Like all women's colleges, there's the idea that Sweet Briar is just a pretty resort where rich girls can spend four years trying to land a husband. Boys are nice, and I'm happy to attend their parties, but we're primarily here to learn in a safe environment. And places where we can do that are dying out: In 1960 there were 230 women's colleges in the United States and Canada -- now there are 47.
But don't think of it as a women's college issue. This is about specialized schools, period: Six of the States' 60 dental schools collapsed in the 1980s, and now it's looking like law schools could be next. Even if you aren't a dentist, a lawyer, or a woman, this is a problem you might have to deal with in the near future: Total college enrollment dropped by half-a-million from 2012 to 2013. Sweet Briar won't be the last college to close. And my friends and I won't be the last bunch of graduates wondering if we just paid tens of thousands of dollars for some funny-looking paper.
"If I wanted that, I would have been a philosophy major."
You can learn more about the campaign to save Sweet Briar here. Or save Mark's self-esteem by visiting his website.
For more insider perspectives, check out 5 Realities of Life When Your Brain Wants You to Murder and Kids Want to Finger Your Butt: Adventures In Teaching Abroad.
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