On April 18, a profanity-filled email from Delta Gamma sorority sister Rebecca Martinson hit the Internet via Gawker and Deadspin. The blistering rant from Martinson, a junior at the University of Maryland, quickly went viral.
The email itself, the YouTube reenactments, and news stories about Martinson have been viewed by over 13 million people. Partially because the email, in its own weird vulgar way, is a work of art, and partially because Martinson is a camera-friendly hottie, she’s now famous. This is probably not how Rebecca Martinson dreamt of becoming a household name.
But Becca’s potty-mouthed vitriol has at least one more totally unexpected consequence: it made me decide I’m never, ever sending my children to college.
I am no angel myself. I am deeply grateful email, Facebook, and YouTube did not exist when I was in my teens. During this time I was intoxicated more often than I can remember, and my dabbling included a few dangerous and illegal substances. Like Martinson, I overuse CAPS LOCK sometimes too. Additionally, even as an adult and mother of three, I believe swear words have a rightful place in literature and parenthood (although Martinson takes profanity to twisted new heights, deftly using “c**t punt” and “c**k block” and “stupid a** hats” to describe her sorority sisters).
But dang it, I went to college TO LEARN SOMETHING. And it wasn’t how to swear colorfully or use a beer bong, or to find out what it feels like to wake up naked next to a boy whose name you can’t remember, or how to sit through English class next to a girl who’d hooked up with your boyfriend twelve hours before. That was my high school experience. Fortunately, there was a limit to my teenage experimentation, because teachers and parents always quickly found out about our idiocy and forced us to learn useful if excruciating life lessons. As a result, most of us had absolutely no need to continue our rash, irresponsible, juvenile experiments in college.
Today’s well-meaning, control-freakish, lawsuit-obsessed parents seem to have simply delayed kids’ willful, stupid experimentation until offspring escape adults’ clutches in favor of higher education havens. Yet the colleges they flock to adamantly refuse to play a disciplinary, boundary-setting role.
The college experience today – even at the finest schools – seems largely about consuming vats of alcohol, sexually assaulting drunken classmates without prosecution by your university, mastering the maximum number of classes you can skip, and now, how to write vicious, insulting emails to girls you’ve pledged to befriend for life.
I am not spending $40,000 a year for my kids to learn that.
In fact, most of my time and money currently goes towards teaching my children to AVOID behaving stupidly, savagely and irresponsibly. I’m trying to get them to internalize an appreciation for the gifts and privileges life has bestowed upon them, include their brains and character. Definitely not how to chug vodka and cheap beer, to destroy dorm furniture and property, and betray their friends and their bodies, all of which seem to be the so-called “freedoms” colleges offer today.
Why do some parents and college administrations allow students to use college as an expensive four year booze and sexfest? Because we don’t want to know – as if out of sight is out of mind? Perhaps we reason that our children earned this “reward” by working hard in high school and getting into a decent college. Maybe we believe drinking, sexual assault, and other nasty behaviors are precious American cultural experiences.
I don’t get it.
A friend’s 18-year-old daughter recently decided, on her own, NOT to attend any of the colleges that had accepted her. Instead, she is spending a year working in Taiwan, learning Mandarin Chinese, and living with a local family on a cultural exchange program. I doubt this young woman will be the object of vulgar, vitriolic Internet fame next year. She will be too busy actually learning something useful about the adult world she is about to join.
Take that, Rebecca Martinson.