Avoiding Crisis

a response to “An Altarnative Education”

with 2 comments

 This is all they’re really doing here, isn’t it? They’re just biding time until somebody proposes!  -quote from the film Mona Lisa’s Smile

On Friday I came across the article “An Altarnative Education.”  It had been published in The Eye, a weekly features and arts magazine published by the Columbia Spectator.  And, yes, it has taken me this long to calm down and write something without sounding like a crazed lunatic. 

How, all the way from Buenos Aires, you may be wondering, did I find this article?  Following the lead of one of my readers I set up a Google alert that sends me a message anytime Barnard College is mentioned in a blog – which, I recently found out is how this particular reader found my blog.  Anyhow, the alert led me here, which then led me to the article.  Needless to say, my initial reaction to the article…okay, actually, let me be completely honest, my reaction to just the first paragraph of this article, was rather crazed.  My reaction to the entire article was just one of outright disbelief and shock.  

So, I did what any Barnard educated women would do, I waited to respond.  See, if there is anything that I learned during my time at Barnard it was that one’s opinion on any issue cannot be taken seriously unless you take the time to make a rational and well thought out response.  Had I wrote down the first thing that came to mind after reading this article, you would have wrote me off as a lunatic bitch who has it out for any girl who goes to college with the idea of finding a husband.  And that’s not me.  That’s not even what I think. I think college is probably a pretty good place to find a husband or wife and I know a whole lot of people who have found their significant others while in college.   

Now that it’s a day or two later, I’ve been able to think a bit more clearly. And here’s what I think:  there are still SO MANY things wrong with this article.

Here are a few of my thoughts.

  • Stereotypes.  Barnard has it’s fair share.  Hmmm….let’s see. It’s a college full of feminists and lesbians.  It’s the college for the women who couldn’t get into Columbia.  Oh, yeah, and my favorite, it’s nothing more than a finishing school for those girls looking for ivy-league educated husbands with deep pockets.  This article does nothing more then perpeturate this last stereotype.  And that’s all it is, a stereotype. 
  • Why did Ms. Colvin, who is a Columbia College student, use a Barnard woman as the focus of this article?  Why not use a Columbia female undergrad?  You mean to tell me that she couldn’t find one Columbia woman to profile.  There are nearly 4000 of them. Please, let’s think about this for a moment.  If you’re main objective in college is to find a husband of top pedigree don’t you think you’d go to Columbia where there are a total of 7,407 undergraduate students, 48.2% male, and not Barnard, where all 2389 students are women.  I would take guess and say that there are probably more Regina Wellington’s at Columbia than Barnard.
  • Colvin writes that “Wellington is a part of a small but vocal minority of girls on college campuses across the country who are unafraid to say that they came to school not for the education, but because they wanted to find a husband.”   Tell me, where are the facts to support this statement?  Who are the vocal minority?  And do NOT show me data from places like Brigham Young University where 98% of the student body are members of the Mormon Church and over 50% are married upon graduation.
  • For someone to say that she doesn’t find college “useful” and that she hasn’t “learned anything” just pisses me off especially when she’s talking about Barnard.  It also makes me kinda sad, in an I feel sad for the poor girl who thinks this way because she’s completely pathetic and maybe even mentally deranged.  To go to a school like Barnard and not learn anything is well, a shame.  It’s also, practically impossible, unless you’ve slept through all your classes, bought term papers and cheated on exams.  It’s a waste to think that there is someone filling a seat in a class that doesn’t even care about the learning that is taking place in that classroom.  It find it disrespectful to the professors and to the fellow students.
  • Colvin uses two New York Times article’s – one from 2003 and another from 2005– to support her point.  But these articles have nothing to do with her argument.  Getting an MRS degree – going to college with the sole purpose of finding a mate – and cutting back on work or leaving a career entirely to care for children – opting out as it’s being called these days – are not the same.  Not even close.  You can’t use data about one issue to support another.  It’s a far stretch to make a connection between the subjects.  Ms. Colvin really should have read them with a more critical eye. 
  • There is one point that Ms. Colvin makes that I do agree with.  It’s that this topic of going to college to find a husband is rather taboo among the halls of top schools, and women’s colleges in particular.  Such a discussion is not really tolerated.  Nor is the discussion of choosing to be a stay-at-home-mom.  These topics should be discussed without the fear of ridicule.  This was never an issue for me at the time I attended Barnard since I had fully intended to have a career first and a family second but it didn’t work that way.  Had these issues been discussed, had I been privy to listening to differing points of view from women like Regina, even though at the time I most likely would have thought she was completely out of her mind, it would have probably helped me in dealing with my own feelings of betraying my education by choosing to follow my husband’s career and stay at home to raise my children.

Oh and how I could go on and on and on about Regina, about the article and about Barnard.  But I won’t.  I won’t bore you with any more of this as it has gone on way too long and I have obviously spent way too much time thinking about it.  But, as you probably have already figured out, it bothers me to read something like this and realize that there are young smart women, women with great potential to be anything they choose – even a wife and mother, because those too are important and challenging jobs – who can’t see the value of the education that is in front of them.    

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Written by nicolemarie

April 1, 2007 at 11:59 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Nicole Marie,

    I absolutely agree with your critique of the article. What frustrates me the most is that this young woman has great opportunities (good grades, an internship at a big bank, etc) and yet squanders them, literally taking the place of a similar young woman who is ambitious and isn’t on the “wife track.”

    If she had said that she wanted the education because she wanted it, and that that should be enough, I’d applaud, but it was some combination of the Barnard stereotypes, tone, and absolute conniving nature that set me off.

    Glad to see that I’m not the only one who feels that way.

    Annie

    April 5, 2007 at 11:15 am

  2. Annie,

    Thanks for writing about this article when it first surfaced. Had I not come across your first posting I would have never even known about it.

    After I wrote my response I contacted one of my former profs from Barnard (who was actually quoted in the article) to she what she thought. She wrote to me that she likes to think of articles like this as a flare up in the “Barnard-Columbia Women Wars” which just seems to happen from time to time and which she chalks up to “tribal tensions that are inevitable in any diverse community.”

    Interesting.

    nicolemarie

    April 5, 2007 at 4:39 pm


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