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”

Displaying 51 - 60 of 78

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Anonymous

I'm sorry that this may offend atheists but.. The answer to the majority of the concerns posted here are a direct representation of a generation raised with a mockery towards God. It was through our faiths in God that allowed us to understand the value of "bettering each other" in stead of one upmanship. Plus, the devaluation of our faiths have forced this young generation to not take seriously the VALUES that God allows in us and requires. The more our "higher" learning educators keep lying to us that God plays no or only bad roles in our lives - the more the identity of this generation will be lost. So sad how some of the comments written here are cries for help yet.. They are blinded to the HOPE that exists through understanding that there is a purpose and reason we all are here. It's so simple yet trying to speak such words to this generation is met with ridicule and small mindedness. The happiest people and the healthiest people have figured out that without a higher conscious of a higher being leads to emptiness. Fact.

Anonymous

I'm sorry that this may offend atheists but.. The answer to the majority of the concerns posted here are a direct representation of a generation raised with a mockery towards God. It was through our faiths in God that allowed us to understand the value of "bettering each other" in stead of one upmanship. Plus, the devaluation of our faiths have forced this young generation to not take seriously the VALUES that God allows in us and requires. The more our "higher" learning educators keep lying to us that God plays no or only bad roles in our lives - the more the identity of this generation will be lost. So sad how some of the comments written here are cries for help yet.. They are blinded to the HOPE that exists through understanding that there is a purpose and reason we all are here. It's so simple yet trying to speak such words to this generation is met with ridicule and small mindedness. The happiest people and the healthiest people have figured out that without a higher conscious of a higher being leads to emptiness. Fact.

Anonymous

I envy you, if all the doubts and fears in your life can be assuaged by belief in a big invisible man in the sky.

Anonymous

I envy you, if all the doubts and fears in your life can be assuaged by belief in a big invisible man in the sky.

Anonymous

Perhaps before dismissing everything that this person posted, you might consider that he or she is commenting on how " the value of 'bettering each other' " seems to have been forgotten within our educational system. Whether or not you believe values like that come from "belief in a big invisible man in the sky" or elsewhere, you can at least agree that there is a problem.

Anonymous

Perhaps before dismissing everything that this person posted, you might consider that he or she is commenting on how " the value of 'bettering each other' " seems to have been forgotten within our educational system. Whether or not you believe values like that come from "belief in a big invisible man in the sky" or elsewhere, you can at least agree that there is a problem.

Anonymous

To some "Fact." Not necessarily to whatever notion one has of G-d. An "ecological frame of mind" could be taught aside from still carry over notions of the Industrial Revolution which have prized some perceived objectivity carried out under the form of one up-manship described. That is, our own inevitable framework of mind to which various things, ideas, etc. via interaction have and do penetrate regularly which leads to the impossibility of an objectivity as we speak and act through our own way of knowing. Yet still, this problematic notion of individualism which pushes us apart. This can be attributed to the "man in the sky" reply or even the imposition that this generation's lack of faith is a problem. The underlying merits of what we can create of such a G-d figure... the deeper understanding and connection, which has been approached in the sciences (though does not necessarily stand now in its true form, but often rather on up-manship posing as some "objective" ecology of mind). The works of Bateson, Keeney, Watzlawick and von Foerster have attempted and have done well at decribing an ecology or a scientific version of a mind in what one may call "G-d." I too am a student and have had to find such things out for myself... Rather than point to yesterday, think of the systemic higher order issues which have trickled down, and rather than isolating some opinion to stand in some faction... i.e. Atheist vs. Believers (which is a pointless and trivial argument and rarely do the qualities of each side arguing line up so that the argument is about the same thing) instead, utilizing our resources to build a new system? Starting here, echoing from here. Starting with the resources of the other, adding to them, becoming a more encompassing one which gives reason and support for others to break the isolation and become the new change? Force an adaptation of the higher structures which have acted the part of a poor, uncaring G-d. Represent for our new system.

Anonymous

To some "Fact." Not necessarily to whatever notion one has of G-d. An "ecological frame of mind" could be taught aside from still carry over notions of the Industrial Revolution which have prized some perceived objectivity carried out under the form of one up-manship described. That is, our own inevitable framework of mind to which various things, ideas, etc. via interaction have and do penetrate regularly which leads to the impossibility of an objectivity as we speak and act through our own way of knowing. Yet still, this problematic notion of individualism which pushes us apart. This can be attributed to the "man in the sky" reply or even the imposition that this generation's lack of faith is a problem. The underlying merits of what we can create of such a G-d figure... the deeper understanding and connection, which has been approached in the sciences (though does not necessarily stand now in its true form, but often rather on up-manship posing as some "objective" ecology of mind). The works of Bateson, Keeney, Watzlawick and von Foerster have attempted and have done well at decribing an ecology or a scientific version of a mind in what one may call "G-d." I too am a student and have had to find such things out for myself... Rather than point to yesterday, think of the systemic higher order issues which have trickled down, and rather than isolating some opinion to stand in some faction... i.e. Atheist vs. Believers (which is a pointless and trivial argument and rarely do the qualities of each side arguing line up so that the argument is about the same thing) instead, utilizing our resources to build a new system? Starting here, echoing from here. Starting with the resources of the other, adding to them, becoming a more encompassing one which gives reason and support for others to break the isolation and become the new change? Force an adaptation of the higher structures which have acted the part of a poor, uncaring G-d. Represent for our new system.

Anonymous

Hopefully you are then fine with me translating your words which are a bit heavy. God or no God, as many folks on both ends face the turmoils, difficulties, highs and lows, as we are all human. We are all human under a common system. God or no God many groups of people have aligned under common belief which has yeilded positive results. In this case, we have the opposite side of the coin. Many folks disjointed under false belief in material, consumer culture. Students these days face the height of suggestive marketing and technology which reduces the need to interact, and so fall easily out of practice and skill in interaction. Withdraw and be overstimulated. In addition, much of what a student does often gets framed under the guise of promised later profit and thus supporting the harmful machine of consumer culture (as this is where the money lies). Yes, perhaps faith in God will lead to a counterculture support system. However, we need our government, our workplace, our society as a whole to be a support system, imperfect as that may be. Not a place of one upsmanship. So, here, let's not diverge at the point of God, but realize that anyone is capable of understanding your view of God in another way. To realize in addition, that your opinion of another person is unnecessary. Your support of the abilities of another person is invauable, and only then will you receive that same respect. Let's begin building our new system.

Anonymous

Hopefully you are then fine with me translating your words which are a bit heavy. God or no God, as many folks on both ends face the turmoils, difficulties, highs and lows, as we are all human. We are all human under a common system. God or no God many groups of people have aligned under common belief which has yeilded positive results. In this case, we have the opposite side of the coin. Many folks disjointed under false belief in material, consumer culture. Students these days face the height of suggestive marketing and technology which reduces the need to interact, and so fall easily out of practice and skill in interaction. Withdraw and be overstimulated. In addition, much of what a student does often gets framed under the guise of promised later profit and thus supporting the harmful machine of consumer culture (as this is where the money lies). Yes, perhaps faith in God will lead to a counterculture support system. However, we need our government, our workplace, our society as a whole to be a support system, imperfect as that may be. Not a place of one upsmanship. So, here, let's not diverge at the point of God, but realize that anyone is capable of understanding your view of God in another way. To realize in addition, that your opinion of another person is unnecessary. Your support of the abilities of another person is invauable, and only then will you receive that same respect. Let's begin building our new system.

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