Nancy Goodman
A maverick Jew living in the Wild West

Get a grip, Higher Education

My masters degree is in Student Development in Higher Education, and I worked in academia for over 15 years. A college campus is a college campus, and what is occurring on college and university campuses today against Jewish students and Judaism in general, breaks all the rules.

College students are supposed to be taught the rules of civil discourse, which is why a communications class is often required. College students are supposed to stretch from the concept of “challenge and support.” Traditionally-aged college students are supposed to learn how to grow up–how to do their own laundry, pay their own bills, think their own thoughts, learn a ton about the world and pick up useful workplace skills. Nontraditional undergraduate and post-bachelors students are there to gain education and expertise needed for many careers.

Students, especially students representing a global microminority like Jews, are not supposed to spend every free minute in their busy college student life, rich in opportunity for personal and professional growth for everyone else, defending their cultural and religious identity at the most basic levels. That’s the job of the institution.

I was a college student when it was common to see evidence of the Free Tibet movement. Did Chinese students get chased down on their way to class? Did Pro-Tibet groups break all the rules for assembly on an academic campus, threatening Chinese students and faculty, or vice versa? Have Pro-Ukrainian campus groups disrupted Russian campus events, and called for all Russians worldwide to die, or the other way around? Has the enduring India-Pakistan conflict shut down any tree-lined quads? How about Haiti? Is anyone even paying attention to Haiti on college campuses right now? Catch up!

I have often said, students graduate from college with three pieces of paper. One piece of paper is the diploma. One piece of paper is the college resume students use to get those first few post-degree jobs, and one piece of paper is the bill.

In spite of all the Jewish trauma-bonding that is occurring on many college campuses, It’s time for Jewish students and those who love them to consider what their tuition dollars or student loans are paying for. Tuition, books, maybe a meal plan, and a supercharged hostile campus environment. A Jewish student leader shouldn’t graduate with a resume that says “FOUGHT CAMPUS ANTISEMITISM” in the extracurriculars section and nothing more. That’s not well-rounded in the real world.

I am earnestly impressed with the pro-Israel college students on college campuses these days, and I strongly support groups such as Stand With Us and Students Supporting Israel. I am so glad there are finally some legal teeth snarling back against the terrible antisemitic sickness that has overtaken academia, and I am so proud of those college students who are fighting the good fight for Israel and Judaism.

But a college degree should be more than that, and there are thousands of colleges and universities, many with plenty of glitter and sprinkles, where students can do all the healthy growing and learning, and preparing for the world, in peace.

Some people think the Ivy League is important. Some people think legacy is important. Some people think toeing a traditional or prestigious line when it comes to college choice is important. But on today’s college campus for Jewish students, consider how much stress is fair and equal for them to endure, vs other college students. Consider how campus cultures are interfering with doing normal college things like learning, individuating, participating in a diverse range of activities, cultivating employment skills, and building lifelong non-traumatic memories. Instead of paying top tuition dollar to experience litigious levels of emotional cultural stress, choose to lose no sleep over sending Jewish students anywhere else to get that college degree.

About the Author
A Chicagoland native, Nancy is a licensed counselor and writer living in her own private Idaho. There is something about the arid summers and making latkes in the potato state that connects Nancy to her Jewish roots. She believes Jehovah forgives Jews who don't attend services or keep kosher, if they stand for Israel.
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