For many, moving into the dorms their freshman year of college is an important rite of passage. It’s the first year of “real” freedom from the parents. It’s also a new start, of sorts. New place, new friends, and, if desired, a whole new you. Decorating the dorm room is a great way for incoming college students to express themselves and to craft a comfortable space in which to live and study. Some leftists, however, want to wipe away the privilege that decorated dorm rooms signify.
In an article for Slate (of course, it’s on Slate), Debra Moffitt wastes no time before throwing the concept of decorating dorm rooms under the bus by asserting, “Dorm rooms are not supposed to feel like home.”
Who says? I mean, Debra Moffitt says it, but why should anyone pay any mind to that assertion? For many, including myself, reading Moffitt’s assertion prompts the question: “what in the world is wrong with dorm rooms feeling like home?”
And Moffitt’s answer to that question reveals that her article is far more than a curmudgeon’s grumblings about spoiled kids. A few paragraphs down, she explains, “Your kid’s dorm room should be roughly the same as everyone else’s. Though it’s becoming an elite privilege, college can still be a great equalizer.”
The truth is, college has always been an elite privilege, there’s no “becoming” about it. In many important ways, society needs colleges to be an elite privilege. For example, we most decidedly want the institutions that train our doctors to be elite in the sense that only those of a certain intellect and skill set are allowed to enroll. I was (am) smart enough to study theatre in college, but I ain’t doctor-smart. For the safety of society and for the sake of not wasting the time and resources of med schools, I should not be allowed entrance into medical colleges. All of us (I know I am) should be grateful that colleges are an elite privilege.
To be fair, though, Moffitt is probably not talking about that kind of elitism (although, she may be). She’s talking about the elitism of the rich kid in the dorm room who hangs a 50-inch TV on the wall while the roommate is lucky to be able to afford a box of ramen noodles in order to have a late-night snack.
For starters, most “non-elite” roommates are going to be thankful for an “elite” roommate who can afford a 50-inch TV. For another thing, being at college, if the “non-elite” roommates apply themselves, which most will, they too will one day be able to afford a 50-inch TV to hang on their kid’s dorm room wall. That’s how all this works: wealth doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it’s produced. Removing the trappings of wealth also removes the incentives to produce wealth.
One last thing: this past month Breitbart ran a story about how incoming Purdue students and their parents are upset at some of the dorm room arrangements. If Moffitt wants a picture of what a democratized dorm room devoid of privilege looks like and is curious about how people respond to it, she should visit Purdue University.