The Big Ideas of 2012

Good Times on Campus

Fight for your mind in 2012.

Students at the University of North Carolina get down and boogie with the SuperTarget mascot at a midnight shopping spree officially endorsed by the school's top brass.

Teddy bears, booty shorts, sandals, cut off jeans, hand claps, crunking, shopping carts … welcome to the school where learning doesn’t have to be just about books.

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This year’s welcome week at the University of North Carolina was outsourced to a host of consumer companies, including the mass wholesaler SuperTarget. The box store giant organized a fleet of buses to take freshmen on a midnight shopping frenzy in their store as the week’s grand finale. The entire event was officially chaperoned by the vice chancellor of the university, who also acted as Target’s tour guide for the evening. The New York Times also reported that American Eagle Outfitters hired popular sophomores on the same campus, ideally those with significant online social network presences (500+ friends), to be brand ambassadors. Their job during the week was to recruit their friends into volunteer moving squads, all wearing gift AE swag, to help new students carry their belongings into their dorms and to give a warm welcome on behalf of American Eagle.

On a more optimistic day, I would tell you that the students involved in this fiasco are able to identify the not-so-subtle-manipulation at work, and that if a party isn’t in the school budget, then why not let SuperTarget or Walmart or Nike throw a bash; or that free duds from a company desperate for market share is a fair trade for a poor students’ time. On a more realistic day, I would tell you that this cohort is the same one that American sociologists are pointing to as the empty-headed Icarus generation now beginning to fly.

Christian Smith and his colleagues at Notre Dame University recently produced a study Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood which revealed that the majority of America’s young adults on campus navigate ethical propositions based only on time, feeling, benefit and desire. Principles such as honor, valor, virtue, morality, God, chivalry, familial piety, ideas that dominated the Western mindset well into the 20th century, were non-factors. Most surprising to them the Times writes is that participants in the study were not at all bothered by “rabid consumerism” and lacked even the basic language to formulate ethical queries about consumerism. To them the market was a benign and neutral reality.

The implications of this objective ethical free-fall are contested and the debate flounders between pragmatic optimism and cautious realism. It isn’t that bad to have finally chased superstition, pre-judgment, and patriarchal precepts to the ends of the earth. On the downside, the trend points to the emergence of ethical silo’s where moral considerations – like should I care about the environment or should I help a stranger or should I buy this product – are nudged to the periphery of the soul in the same way that religion and philosophy have been pushed over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries, out of sight, out of mind.

—Darren Fleet

52 comments on the article “Good Times on Campus”

Displaying 21 - 30 of 52

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Anonymous

Let us face it Americans you are born to shop and consume yet the majority of you are predestined to die young, and poor in some ghetto in your inner cities most likely from heart disease or some illness associated with poor nutrition, poor working conditions and lack of proper medical care because the 3 jobs you work so hard at do not even provide you proper health care. You are thrown peanuts for your hard work while the 1 % are doing lines of Bolivian coke of a Ukrainian hookers ass, handing out 10 million dollar bonus for bankrupting companies your tax dollars funded . I ask you how many home owners has your government bailed out? How many small business have they bailed out?

Your lives have been reduced to consumption. They, your government, dangles the carrot of “freedom” in your face to keep you pulling the weight of big corporations and their failed system, yet freedom is only appealing to the enslaved. Think about that. You are no more than a social security number, that is expected to generate so many tax, interest, and profit dollars in your life time to make the rich even richer and the powerful even more powerful. Indeed The government and big business have done an excellent job at creating the perfect sty for the mindless consumption bread automatons to practice “rabid consumerism” .

Those of you who do speak out against the status-quo are beaten arrested, ridiculed and even killed by the cooperate immune system which eradicates any dissidence that may pose a threat. Those of you who take action are labeled terrorists and enemies of the state by your government who has been reduced to nothing but a pawn by big business. “For the people buy the people”, I do not think so…..For the 1% and F#ck The People” is more like it.
So shop until you drop you mindless consumption bread automatons. Because you all will be dropping sooner than later. Power to the People!! Occupy !!

Anonymous

Let us face it Americans you are born to shop and consume yet the majority of you are predestined to die young, and poor in some ghetto in your inner cities most likely from heart disease or some illness associated with poor nutrition, poor working conditions and lack of proper medical care because the 3 jobs you work so hard at do not even provide you proper health care. You are thrown peanuts for your hard work while the 1 % are doing lines of Bolivian coke of a Ukrainian hookers ass, handing out 10 million dollar bonus for bankrupting companies your tax dollars funded . I ask you how many home owners has your government bailed out? How many small business have they bailed out?

Your lives have been reduced to consumption. They, your government, dangles the carrot of “freedom” in your face to keep you pulling the weight of big corporations and their failed system, yet freedom is only appealing to the enslaved. Think about that. You are no more than a social security number, that is expected to generate so many tax, interest, and profit dollars in your life time to make the rich even richer and the powerful even more powerful. Indeed The government and big business have done an excellent job at creating the perfect sty for the mindless consumption bread automatons to practice “rabid consumerism” .

Those of you who do speak out against the status-quo are beaten arrested, ridiculed and even killed by the cooperate immune system which eradicates any dissidence that may pose a threat. Those of you who take action are labeled terrorists and enemies of the state by your government who has been reduced to nothing but a pawn by big business. “For the people buy the people”, I do not think so…..For the 1% and F#ck The People” is more like it.
So shop until you drop you mindless consumption bread automatons. Because you all will be dropping sooner than later. Power to the People!! Occupy !!

Anonymous

Most of Universities in both the US and Canada are controlled by the same lobby groups which control the governments.

For example, last year, Canada’s oldest academic institution, the University of Toronto, came under fire for awarding a Master’s degree to a Jew female student Jennifer Peto – for her thesis which claims that the Jews practice racism against non-Jewish communities.....

http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/u-of-t-under-fire-for-thesis-on-jewish-racism/

Anonymous

Most of Universities in both the US and Canada are controlled by the same lobby groups which control the governments.

For example, last year, Canada’s oldest academic institution, the University of Toronto, came under fire for awarding a Master’s degree to a Jew female student Jennifer Peto – for her thesis which claims that the Jews practice racism against non-Jewish communities.....

http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/u-of-t-under-fire-for-thesis-on-jewish-racism/

Anonymous

I'm a student at a large U.S. University right now. We have a similar thing every year. They call it the "Target Run." I saw it occur a couple of years ago. It was quite frightening.

Anonymous

I'm a student at a large U.S. University right now. We have a similar thing every year. They call it the "Target Run." I saw it occur a couple of years ago. It was quite frightening.

Thomas Szasz

"The struggle for definition is veritably the struggle for life itself. In the typical Western two men fight desperately for the possession of a gun that has been thrown to the ground: whoever reaches the weapon first shoots and lives; his adversary is shot and dies. In ordinary life, the struggle is not for guns but for words; whoever first defines the situation is the victor; his adversary, the victim. For example, in the family, husband and wife, mother and child do not get along; who defines whom as troublesome or mentally sick?...[the one] who first seizes the word imposes reality on the other; [the one] who defines thus dominates and lives; and [the one] who is defined is subjugated and may be killed."

We have a patronage society because our minds are filled with sponsored speech. If we don't want sponsored lives anymore we have to undermine and completely eliminate that process. People must control their own narrative and plot and not have it dictated to them.

Thomas Szasz

"The struggle for definition is veritably the struggle for life itself. In the typical Western two men fight desperately for the possession of a gun that has been thrown to the ground: whoever reaches the weapon first shoots and lives; his adversary is shot and dies. In ordinary life, the struggle is not for guns but for words; whoever first defines the situation is the victor; his adversary, the victim. For example, in the family, husband and wife, mother and child do not get along; who defines whom as troublesome or mentally sick?...[the one] who first seizes the word imposes reality on the other; [the one] who defines thus dominates and lives; and [the one] who is defined is subjugated and may be killed."

We have a patronage society because our minds are filled with sponsored speech. If we don't want sponsored lives anymore we have to undermine and completely eliminate that process. People must control their own narrative and plot and not have it dictated to them.

Highschooler

It is truly sad that young adults do not have the morals and values that lay embedded in the minds and hearts of previous generations. However, I blame this on technology and lack of personal communication, not consumerism. If anything, we need consumerism. How else will we drag ourselves out of this dreadful economy?

And as for Occupy, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. The so-called 1% is not a monarchy. A person does not become rich overnight. It takes hard work and much perseverance to live the American dream. One only needs a good education, talent, and work experience to climb up the career ladder of success past the "99%" of ragged freeloaders to a kingdom of riches. Do we want to be a communist country? If we care about ourselves and our country, we will work hard and stop complaining.

Highschooler

It is truly sad that young adults do not have the morals and values that lay embedded in the minds and hearts of previous generations. However, I blame this on technology and lack of personal communication, not consumerism. If anything, we need consumerism. How else will we drag ourselves out of this dreadful economy?

And as for Occupy, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. The so-called 1% is not a monarchy. A person does not become rich overnight. It takes hard work and much perseverance to live the American dream. One only needs a good education, talent, and work experience to climb up the career ladder of success past the "99%" of ragged freeloaders to a kingdom of riches. Do we want to be a communist country? If we care about ourselves and our country, we will work hard and stop complaining.

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