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Monday, September 06, 2004

Where not to go to school...

Something is afoot at NYU. This year six students have jumped to their deaths (five deemed suicides and one an accident). One wonders what condition a person must be in to take their own life and how no one around them notices the signals.

The initial reports do not seek to pin blame on the university or the administration, but I wouldn't be surprised if litigation against NYU weren't forthcoming pretty soon. The current issue of Reason Magazine (not online yet) has a good article on the role of the university with respect to the student - how much responsibility does the university have to "parent" the student? Are students self-responsible adults that are beyond the control of the university qua parent/guardian or are students more like children that need to be watched over and cared for by the university structure?

In the past, the university acted in loco parentis, in the 1960s and 1970s the trend was just the opposite as the students took over their curriculum and extra-curricular activities. In the 1990s the pendulum swung back a bit and universities were found liable for certain behaviors. Today there seems to be an uneasy equilibrium between student personal responsibility and university oversight, until tragedies such as this occur.

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