Although many students may think adulthood begins with their first day of classes at TCU, I would advise them to think again.College students are considered young adults who venture into scholarship and self-exploration, and while there may be truth to this concept, there is also evidence that supports the opposite.
Have you ever sat down and thought about how residence halls set limitations on your way of life? Think RAs (“resident assistants,” or as I like to refer to them, “rearing assistants”). What about Sodexho and its demand on how much we spend on its limited food choices? I like Monopoly, but only when it’s the board game.
Graduating with a degree from a university has opened the doors of opportunity for careers but it has also put adulthood on the back burner.
Geoff Ferrell, a professor in the criminal justice department, said the increased educational requirements after World War II for professional – and sometimes nonprofessional – jobs lead to extended adolescence.
Ferrell said American universities have played a part in loco parentis (in place of a parent) for decades.
“In that sense, universities also contribute to extended adolescence and the ambiguous status of young people, many of whom have now left parents behind to go off to college, yet find themselves being parented yet again,” Ferrell said.
Ferrell also said loco parentis can lead to the ghettoization of universities.
“When you add into this poor off-campus housing, fast food joints and the like, you do get the sense of an ‘age ghetto’ on and around college campuses,” Ferrell said.
Within the university environment, students are forced to follow rules and regulations with curfews, RAs, food plans, etc.
If you choose to live on campus, the dormitories, or residence halls as TCU likes to call them, control what you are able to do.
We are young adults who can be deployed to war and vote, and some may be able to purchase alcoholic beverages. However, all students are subject to limitation set within their living environment on campus.
Ferrell said university ghettoization mirrors similarities between the collective conditions of students and the collective conditions of other marginalized groups that are denied full access to power and authority.
“In a sense the university does function as a sort of ‘student ghetto’ in that students are crowded together under confining conditions that most adults wouldn’t tolerate such as strict rules, limited responsibilities, etc.,” Ferrell said.
It’s no wonder so many students decide to move off campus.
Students are required to attend an All Hall Meeting at the beginning of each semester. The purpose of these mandatory meetings is to inform students of university policies.
According to the online student handbook, disciplinary actions will take place if a student is not present during the All Hall Meeting.
“Attendance is required and roll will be taken. Absence from this meeting will result in disciplinary actions, which will include a fine of $50. At this meeting, students will be requested to sign a statement that they have read and agree to uphold all information contained in the handbook and the addendum on campus living,” according to the TCU Web site.
As if the restrictions for students in residence halls didn’t remind you enough of home, students have rules and regulations which restrict overnight guests, smoking and pets (with the exception of fish aquariums not exceeding 25 gallons).
And what about the food?
TCU Dining Services is managed by the Sodexho Marriott Corporation. We are forced to eat from Sodexho. The lack of options for dinning services serves as a monopoly. Yes, I said it: Sodexho is a monopoly.
Not only do we not have a choice of what we eat and from where we choose to eat, but we also have no decision in how much we spend on food.
Students who live on campus are assigned a dining plan based upon the term they enter TCU and/or the residence hall they reside in.
Sodexho reminds me of when my mom monopolized my dinner choices with vegetables at home.
The more I think about it – the strict rules of residence halls, rearing assistant (oops, I meant resident assistants) and the monopoly of our dinning plan – I feel like I am being treated as a child rather than preparing for adulthood.
So while we may think we are young adults making real-life decisions, think again. One way or another, universities are playing mom and dad.
Roxanna Latifi is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Fort Worth.