Apocalyptic Boredom

Mein Kampus

Neoliberalism sucks the brains out of a generation.

Doug and Mike Starn / Take Off Your Skin, It Ain't No Sin, 2007

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A cultural shift is happening on university campuses across North America. Students are lining up for mental health services faster than they can be treated. This shift is defining a generation and marks a profound change in the mental environment on campuses today. There was a time not so long ago when students used to reach out for help with a particular life crisis: a broken relationship, the death of a loved one, difficulty with a major decision. Today, however, students are complaining that their life is the crisis, an all-pervasive sense of bleakness about themselves and their future that didn’t exist a generation ago. This transition from the incidental to the total is nothing short of a socialized paradigm shift, one that has transformed higher learning from a space of exploration and freedom to a prison of the mind. Fueled by stress, anxiety, pressure and competition, many of today’s students are struggling not only to learn but also to survive.

Dr. Erika Horwitz, associate director of health counseling services at one of Canada’s largest undergraduate universities, Simon Fraser, said the hypercompetitive environment at universities where students are pitted against each other in a perceived zero-sum game for fewer and fewer jobs, is pushing a generation of youth to the edge.

“The current ideologies of success and beauty are unprecedented … students are coming in at increasing rates, saying they can’t cope.”

The upward trend of psycho trauma on North American campuses is documented each year in the Association of University and College Counseling Center Directors Annual Survey. Their results are alarming. More than two-thirds of student health centers say they don’t have enough resources and counselors to deal with the growing numbers of clients. Thirty-four percent of centers have ongoing waitlists. The number one reason for visits is anxiety, at 40 percent, followed closely by depression at 38 percent. On top of this, dual diagnosis is rapidly rising with most students coming in with deadly mixes of anxiety, depression, body image disparities and suicidal thoughts. And all directors agree that the numbers are going up.

These results indicate what happens when the dominant economic ideology of the age, neoliberalism, creeps into the mentality of science and arts. The campus isn’t a place to study Heidegger anymore. Nor is it a place to query the relative nature of the Bohr atom. It is a place to get a leg up on the competition, and competition is fierce. This is a place to cheat when you can, to choose easy courses with easy professors, to trade learning for sycophancy, to deliberately ask one question per class, regardless of interest, for that extra participation grade and to escape into private and isolated worlds when the curve determines only 20 percent are allowed to get that coveted A. In a generation, the message has changed. This is not a place to find your self anymore; this is not a cultural rite of passage; this is a cultural requirement. From students’ first application signature to the day they toss their cap and gown, the new message is clear: a four-year BA will not be enough; one foul grade could ruin your chances at graduate school and consequently your life. This message is snuffing out our brightest minds.

Darren Fleet

78 comments on the article “Mein Kampus”

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Anonymous

Interesting, though I'm afraid some people might use this article as an impetus to go on wallowing in self-pity.

Anonymous

Interesting, though I'm afraid some people might use this article as an impetus to go on wallowing in self-pity.

Anonymous

I agree with everything said in the article whole heatedly, and I am a college undergrad in california. You lost me at neoliberalism though. You very accurately define what is going on in colleges these days, but "These results indicate what happens when the dominant economic ideology of the age, neoliberalism, creeps into the mentality of science and arts." is essentially the only time you mention any evidence for neoliberalism being the cause. While I agree that it is a largely an economical idealism that is the problem, I would tend to say that it is the other end of the spectrum at neoconservatism that is the problem. What makes you think its neoliberalism?

Anonymous

I agree with everything said in the article whole heatedly, and I am a college undergrad in california. You lost me at neoliberalism though. You very accurately define what is going on in colleges these days, but "These results indicate what happens when the dominant economic ideology of the age, neoliberalism, creeps into the mentality of science and arts." is essentially the only time you mention any evidence for neoliberalism being the cause. While I agree that it is a largely an economical idealism that is the problem, I would tend to say that it is the other end of the spectrum at neoconservatism that is the problem. What makes you think its neoliberalism?

Anonymous

strictly speaking American neoconservativism and neoliberalism are both outgrowths of Enlightenment Liberalism, meaning both Neoconservativism and Neoliberalism accept that Markets are the ideal method for determining whether or not something has intrinsic value, the belief in the ownership principle, and an acceptance that all persons are equal before god and therefore equal before the state, and most importantly that monarchs are not ideal. The main difference between neoliberalism and neoconervatism is that neoconservatives are more platonic in that they believe that markets should dictate who has what rights, powers, and privileges in society, whereas neoliberalism is relative, no one method, aside from markets, is any better than any other method at determining whether not something is right, it boils down to cultural relativism. Both present separate problems, and both in my mind are harming our culture. Neoconservatism, also has a strong religious streak and is more likely to support nationalist, natavist, and religious ideologies whereas neoliberalism is likely to support relativist policies that remove personal responsibility from so called rational actors.

Anonymous

strictly speaking American neoconservativism and neoliberalism are both outgrowths of Enlightenment Liberalism, meaning both Neoconservativism and Neoliberalism accept that Markets are the ideal method for determining whether or not something has intrinsic value, the belief in the ownership principle, and an acceptance that all persons are equal before god and therefore equal before the state, and most importantly that monarchs are not ideal. The main difference between neoliberalism and neoconervatism is that neoconservatives are more platonic in that they believe that markets should dictate who has what rights, powers, and privileges in society, whereas neoliberalism is relative, no one method, aside from markets, is any better than any other method at determining whether not something is right, it boils down to cultural relativism. Both present separate problems, and both in my mind are harming our culture. Neoconservatism, also has a strong religious streak and is more likely to support nationalist, natavist, and religious ideologies whereas neoliberalism is likely to support relativist policies that remove personal responsibility from so called rational actors.

Anonymous

And not to mention how manipulative the idea of "markets" even is. Like do we really need fucking smartphones and shoes with air soles, and designer sunglasses, and video games. It's all relative. I think your post was meant to be confusing.

Anonymous

And not to mention how manipulative the idea of "markets" even is. Like do we really need fucking smartphones and shoes with air soles, and designer sunglasses, and video games. It's all relative. I think your post was meant to be confusing.

Anon

the term "neoliberalism" is somewhat of a misnomer. It refers to an ideology of markets, and has little to do with how the term "liberal" is used normally in politics. I found this lecture by David Harvey very useful in understanding the term and its history.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkWWMOzNNrQ

I know very few people who know anything about it, yet the impact of neoliberal policies have literally changed the world.

cheers

Anon

the term "neoliberalism" is somewhat of a misnomer. It refers to an ideology of markets, and has little to do with how the term "liberal" is used normally in politics. I found this lecture by David Harvey very useful in understanding the term and its history.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkWWMOzNNrQ

I know very few people who know anything about it, yet the impact of neoliberal policies have literally changed the world.

cheers

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