The New York Times recently launched a new series called “On Campus”, which consists of “Dispatches from college students, professors, and administrators on higher education and university life.” The series covers topics like binge drinking in frats, free speech and protesting, sexual assault, and safe spaces. Bryan Stascavage ’18 published “My Liberal University Cemented My Vote for Trump” in the series last November. Stascavage is known for controversial articles he’s written while in and out of his position as a staff writer in the Wesleyan Argus.
Since the beginning of the summer, the “On Campus” series seems to have taken a turn in published content. They now strive to console college students in their sorry state of existence, with articles titled “You’ll Never Be Famous, and That’s OK” and “College Students Want to Talk About Sex. They Just Don’t Know How” , which really make college kids feel welcome in the series that gives them such helpful insight on their own lives.
If you are a college student who exclusively reads articles that make you indignant, “On Campus” is undoubtedly the place for you. If you are interested in political issues that intersect with larger discussions on college campuses, and want to be able to forward said discussions to your old college pals via email, I would recommend “On Campus”. If you feel that you haven’t quite heard enough criticism of Millennials and Gen Z’ers, again, I would direct you to “On Campus.”
“On Campus’” new reader recruitment efforts involve directing the articles at people who are off campus, but very much wish to be on it. To these new readers’ dismay, the figure of the utopian college campus—the bubble in which all liberal arts college students reside—was unfortunately burst by this controversial series. Suddenly, for the first time, without any warning, college campuses began to have a lot of issues. What the authors and editors of “On Campus” seem to forget is that the reason these issues come up “on campus” is because they exist off campus as well. And while there is something to be said for centralizing issues into one medium, the real audience of the New York Times is not college students, and therefore is not the group that would benefit from discussions about college.
To the writers and editors of “On Campus” series, I say, good luck and keep writing. I’m sure many college grads will be shocked by your material. However, I’d like to make one revision; the series would be better named “On Planet Earth.” Despite the actual title, the series does not talk about issues that are unique to college campuses, nor does its audience contain college students. Without the guidance of “On Campus,” I have learned that I’ll never be famous and that that’s ok, and that I may want to talk about sex but I’ll never really know how. However, I’ll continue to grapple with the issues “On Campus” with my peers and fellow millennials, and while I may not be doing that 10 years retrospectively through a national literary magazine such as the New York Times, I might as well try doing it while I’m here,“on campus,” through Wesleying, perhaps.