July 30, 2003

Is In Loco Parentis Dead?

This question is raised by John Bruce in the comments to a post at SCSUScholars on professor-student dating. Citing rules governing alcohol consumption, John suggests that it's not dead; kb seems to partially agree but partially disagree when he states that "In loco parentis isn't dead but its locus has moved from the faculty to student affairs offices, which practice it in an entirely different manner than did the professoriate."

In this article, Glenn C. Altschuler and Isaac Kramnick argue that in loco parentis has been "virtually non-existent" for the past thirty years and suggest that it will remain moribund:

The ballyhooed return of in loco parentis, it seems to us, is little more than a series of new rules -- adopted to minimize liability and litigation -- to regulate the consumption of alcohol on campuses. Significantly, since such rules have been on the books, drunken students have virtually never been disciplined, dorm rooms have almost never been inspected, and binge drinking has reached epidemic proportions.

But these two authors also believe that "a much more important, and more positive, development in higher education is occurring: the proliferation of living-and-learning communities, which aim to eradicate the boundaries between the life of the mind and recreation, between intellectual and social life."

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at July 30, 2003 02:40 PM

To "eradicate the boundaries between the life of the mind and recreation, between intellectual and social life," has a more than slightly totalitarian feeling to it...reminiscent of the "Strength thru Joy" camps of the Third Reich.

Posted by: David Foster at July 30, 2003 03:48 PM

OK, I'm in.

Posted by: kb at July 31, 2003 06:32 PM

Of course, an LLC only has a chance to work if the university follows up and introduces many of the activities, etc. that Altschuler and Kramnick talk about. That may be easier said than done; For example, the only school that I have any experience with, Columbia, has conspicuously failed to do so, as best as I can tell.

Posted by: Mark at July 31, 2003 06:33 PM

It also sounds, to me, like the hogwash thrown over edutainment (sorry for the word) to charge real-education prices for something cheaper and less useful, but appealing to the 'customer' because easier. Illumination guaranteed! Boy, does that sound profitable...

Posted by: clew at August 1, 2003 02:57 PM