A glimpse into the "Ivory Tower" -
September 13, 2001 8:46 PM   Subscribe

A glimpse into the "Ivory Tower" - The online community at Swarthmore College is abuzz with reflections, debates, insults and demands for revenge prompted by the recent tragedies. After being physically threatened by a member of my college community after commenting that I thought that the Netherlands was a more "free" nation than the US, I've stopped going to the site myself; however, a look at the forum may demonstrate that such reactionary thought isn't limited to "middle America" or the "unenlightened," as some intellectual snobs/idealists seem to think. (Swarthmore was tied with Amherst as the number one liberal arts college in the country according to U.S. World and News Report.)
posted by surblimity (10 comments total)
This is irrelevant, but the US News college rankings are a waste of energy. Continue with the discussion.
posted by dr_emory at 8:50 PM on September 13, 2001

frankly - i agree, dr_emory. just added that point about the ranking to demonstrate that a supposed "bastion of intelligence" or something like that, as decided by US News, doesn't appear to be living up to it's image.
posted by surblimity at 8:56 PM on September 13, 2001

Not to take anything away from the site, but I've noticed tha the frontpage now runs over several hundred kilobytes for me. I've customized it down to only show Today's news and it weighs in at 120 kilobytes. This takes around 20 sec. to load for the average 56k'er. Should we be concerned about bandwidth? Average front-page posts are coming in about every 20 min. That's a lot to stomach if you haven't reduced the way news is displayed. I don't have a real concern but am just a little curious.
posted by bloggboy at 9:01 PM on September 13, 2001

What a wonderful forum it must be for the free and open exchange of ideas, what with the nice little "Report This Post" link underneath each post.
posted by rushmc at 9:11 PM on September 13, 2001

Sad and sorry about this, but having taught for some 25 years at an American University (not ranked up there with those mentioned), I have found precious litte that sets our best students apart from most others. They emply the same cliches, know precious little history, and are as filled with emotional baggage from their culture as all others. Not that this is bad. But only that it is for me routine.
posted by Postroad at 9:17 PM on September 13, 2001

I shudder to think that the daily jolt is really representative of swarthmore.

in any case, you're right, postroad -- we do have the same "emotional baggage" and so on and so forth. I don't think being a better student makes one a better person; sometimes in the truly cutthroat academia-world (of which swarthmore is not a part) the exact opposite happens. there will be extraordinary people anywhere, but we are all still people.
posted by rabi at 9:21 PM on September 13, 2001

rushmc - the "report this post" thing is there in case posts are slanderous/threatening/etc. against specific students. there have been a fair share of such posts, and frankly i think it's good that there's a way to get rid of posts like that. i don't see that as an infringement on people's freedom of speech - ESPECIALLY because the types of posts which can be removed tend to be posted anonymously by people who don't want to be held responsible for their threats and slander.
posted by surblimity at 9:32 PM on September 13, 2001

....after commenting that I thought that the Netherlands was a more "free" nation than the US...

I lived in the Netherlands for about 9 months many years ago. In many ways I felt a great deal more freedom there than here (s.f. bay area). First, I could walk the streets any time of night without any fear of crime. Until I lived there I didn't realize how much subliminal fear I felt in the U.S. The dutch attitude towards drugs and sex seemed to be both conservative and laissez faire. There didn't seem to be a huge number of dutch people who were interested in imposing their religous based morality on other people. In those ways Holland seemed a lot to allow individuals more freedom than America. I did run into blantant racism there but it wasn't backed up by centuries of institutional power aimed at me so I didn't take it very seriously. The racism seemed based more on unfamiliarity than hate. I'm aware enough of dutch history to know that Holland had colonies and to know about the connection between Holland and South Africa but I can' t think of a single person in the time I spent there who tried to make me feel unwelcome. On the other hand I'm not sure how I'd deal with knowing that I'd be working and living in the same place for most of my adult life. Many people there seemed have very stable lives. I suppose that this has changed in the time since I lived there.
posted by rdr at 9:45 PM on September 13, 2001

I can't recall the circumstances, but I came across a pointer to that same forum many months ago, and the threads were just as nutbaggy as they are now. (Indeed, that's why I'd been pointed there: to see the silliness.)

I will refrain from making any comments about the quality of Swarthmore or its students, as I have a conflict of interest: my most-hated ex-GF went to college there.
posted by aaron at 12:24 AM on September 14, 2001

I know this thread is not really about the Netherlands but more the reaction surblimity received. (which I found astonishing, I hope this is not typical)

I live in the Netherlands, and while our individual freedom may be great, some people have argued it has gone too far, and that our feeling for community is also at an all time low. Just a thought to balance the idea of individualism versus community.

Anyway, I like my freedom, please note that :)
posted by Icestorm at 1:31 AM on September 14, 2001

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