Thursday, October 19, 2006

Random books

Binge: Campus Life in an Age of Disconnection and Excess (Paperback) by Barrett Seaman "On a crisp November Monday evening just past six-thirty, I arrived at the large, rambling cedar-shingled building on the outskirts of the University of California's..."

Seaman, a longtime reporter and editor at Time magazine, retired in 2001. A trustee at his alma mater, Hamilton College, since 1989, he became increasingly curious about how the residential college experience had changed since his student years in the 1960s. Choosing 12 colleges, among them Harvard, Berkeley, Duke, Stanford, and University of Wisconsin at Madison, Seaman spent two years living at colleges and investigating campus life. His findings will be utterly unsurprising to most parents, students, professors and administrators: today's students are overextended, isolated by technology, drink too much, study too little and engage in sexual experimentation that can lead—in combination with alcohol and other wrong choices—to depression, diseases and even date rape. How do today's residential campuses differ from those of Seaman's day? The author provides no comparisons, yet he seems highly alarmed by the changes he perceives. He is at his best detailing statistics, whether on campus drinking or emotional stresses placed on students; weakest when focusing on the influence of technology (he decries Instant Messaging and multitasking), the impact of sexuality and the conflicts caused by race. Seaman does recognize the need for college administrators and professors to be more engaged in student life/lives; this book is addressed primarily to them.


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