Intellectual debate outside classrooms
Paul Leuck | Friday, October 30, 2009
The perceived lack of intellectual discussion outside the classroom is just that: perceived. I’m not sure how student government measured the intellectual quality of dining hall conversations, but I think it would be safe to say they didn’t.
I suppose I can’t speak for all students, but I have had no lack of intellectual debates/yelling matches with my friends and roommates, covering such topics as healthcare reform, foreign policy, international development policy, the existence of God, simultaneous belief in God and scientific findings, etc. But, since these conversations take place in dining halls and dorm rooms and no one makes sure to have a student government representative present at all times, I guess the fact that such discussions take place fell through the cracks.
If you do think there’s a lack of constant intellectual debate, it’s because of the type of student that applies to Notre Dame. We are smart, but we care about purely nonacademic things as well. We’ll write a 10 page paper in six hours so we can go watch the basketball game against Georgetown and we’ll still ace the paper, and that’s why I love Notre Dame. We’re smart but not so far down the genius spectrum that we have problems with students committing suicide or other psychotic academically-related violent acts.
These stigmas also come with an Ivy reputation. This is the second time I’ve seen the “my Professor at Princeton says …” quote in this newspaper, and I’m beginning to think the student government is suffering from an inferiority complex. Vice President Cynthia Weber claims in defense that we are not trying to become an Ivy, but in reality that is precisely what we are trying to do. This university is constantly comparing its academics, its endowment, the quality of its library, and so forth to those of Ivy League schools.
Those are our benchmarks and it’s not a shame to admit it. But in our efforts to improve we don’t need to gush over everything and anything Ivy to the point that we lose our character.