Friday, September 23, 2005

Perilous groupthink 

KC Johnson reads an email from a CUNY administrator for a Vanity Fair student essay contest, and finds insertions that reveal much about academic groupthink. Here's the paragraph the administrator wrote, with italics the parts inserted, probably, to help students prepare to write.
What's on the minds of America's youth today? More than 30 years ago, young people across the country staged sit-ins for civil rights, got up and protested against a misguided, undeclared war, and actually gave a damn if a president lied to them. Although a lot has changed since then, there are still racial divides, and America is once again mired in a largely controversial war. Back in the 1960s and 70s, a similar climate motivated great numbers of young people to act, organize, and take to the streets in defiance. Today it seems as if younger Americans are content to watch their MTV, fiddle with their game players, follow the love lives of Brad, Jen, Jessica, and Paris, and assume the hard work is being done for them by others. What has changed? Is it simply that we do not have motivating factors such as a draft or Kent State to bring us together, to anger us? What is going on inside the minds of American youth today? In 1,500 words or fewer, explain what is on the minds of America's youth.