Back in 1962, Robert Gover published a novel called the One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding whose premise Amazon describes this way: “A college sophomore spends a weekend with a pretty 14-year-old black prostitute under the manly misapprehension that she has invited him because she finds him irresistible.”
I remember reading it as an undergraduate and finding it mildly amusing. Of course, inflation being what it is, it’s hard to write a book about a piddling hundred dollar misunderstanding anymore. But somehow the novel came to mind today when reading one of my favorite websites — The College Fix.
The misunderstanding it called to mind, however, is not between johns and hookers of whatever ages. It is between parents and the colleges to which we are sending our children. And the cost of this misunderstanding has expanded exponentially — to sixty-five thousand dollars! That’s the current approximate total for room, board and tuition at many of our finest private universities for those considered “fortunate” enough to be able to pay the full amount. For others it can be anything from ten to forty grand, still a princely amount.
And what are we parents getting for this (besides broke)? The College Fix’s editor Nathan Harden gives us a look in a report today — “Adventures in Gender Neutral Bathrooms” — that begins:
When you really have to pee at Columbia University, there is one question that must be answered before you can go: What is my gender today?
If you are biologically male, for instance, but feel like a female, you may feel the need to use the ladies restroom. And why shouldn’t you? If the girl in the stall next to you doesn’t like to take her pants down next to a man she doesn’t know, that’s just evidence of her hetero-normative bigotry. That’s why the Obama administration ruled in 2012 that dudes who feel like ladies have a right to use the women’s bathrooms on campus, no matter how unsafe that makes the women on campus feel.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against everyone having his, her or [question mark’s] bathroom. In fact, I read in Slate there are now fifty-six genders on Facebook and if they each want their own baths, or to share forty-eight of them, I say knock yourselves out. But — excuse me for being heteronormative or, worse than that, for using caps — I DON’T WANNA PAY FOR IT!!! — either via taxes or tuition.
And while we’re at it, I’d just as soon not pay for any of the lockstep nonsense being offered at our institutes of higher learning outside of science and math. Well, maybe foreign languages.
But maybe I’m just in a bad mood, influenced by the news that UCLA — evidently the last of the holdouts — no longer requires the study of Shakespeare, Milton or Chaucer for English majors. What are our college students required to study, other than how many genders can fit on the head of a pin? I doubt it’s the First Amendment, given recent totalitarian events at Brandeis and now the University of Minnesota where the faculty is protesting the appearance of Condeleezza Rice. (There the august professors are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who, as I recall, didn’t care much for Condoskeeza [sic] Rice either.)
I apologize for joking around even a little bit, because I think the nature of our higher education is the most dangerous phenomenon in our society today, worse even than the media and Hollywood and considerably more monolithic than either of those two.
I hope Glenn Reynolds is right when he says the bubble will burst soon. I don’t want anymore sixty-five thousand dollar misunderstandings.
Meanwhile, read The College Fix. You will see there are actually some students who get they are being had. If anyone will save us, they will.