The university used to be a place in which the primary focus was an “opening” of the mind to the intellectual life. The undergraduate years were a preparation for a life of reflectiveness, an unending search for truth. The goal of college was a lifetime of reading, learning, thinking, conversing, reflecting. I just finished my last classes as an undergraduate, and now I just want to sit around and read and think and talk with my friends. I consider myself very fortunate to have friends who want the same things.
But as I receive University emails and invitations, I see that such desires are not the focus of the University. I just received a text from Notre Dame’s emergency alert system:
Happy Senior Week! Remember to join us 8:00 PM TONIGHT for free food and music at Stepan for the Kickoff Party 2013.undclass.org.
Other events featured during “senior week:” class Mass, class picnic, Cubs game, last dining hall meal, senior bowling, Commencement Ball, last trip to the Basilica and Grotto, apparel sale. These things are certainly good things, but I can’t help but feel that something is missing: the whole point of why we came to college in the first place. These events might suggest that the point of college was to get four years of the “Notre Dame brand.” There is nothing here that would suggest an “opening,” and certainly not one of the mind. Rather, these are a series of “lasts,” of “endings,” of “never agains,” as if the last four years will have little to do with the rest of our lives, as if the best times of our lives are over and now we just have to leave.
To me, it seems that we have a very shallow view of what our undergraduate years are supposed to offer. It seems as though we are to just have as much fun as we can during the best days of our lives, rather than working to make the rest of our lives better. Perhaps I am being too pessimistic, but I can’t help but feel as if we are missing something.