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College Control of Social Life of its Students

A current controversy spreading across college campuses is the nature and extent of a schoolÆs control of the social life of its students. In the 1960s, universities ascribed to the view that, if they could go to war, at age 18, they were adults, and accordingly, the administration did not involve itself in the social and private lives of its students. Three decades later, however, universities have a new assessment of their part in regulating the social aspect of the campus culture. College administrators are now looking at their students as ôquasi-adultsö and are asking themselves, ôWhat kinds of parents can we be?ö

In recent years, many college campuses have taken an in loco parentis approach in dealing with their students. For example, Lehigh University banned parties on campus unless a staff member or other adult was present, Princeton University ended a 25-year tradition known as the ôNude Olympicsö, in which sophomores ran naked at midnight after the first snowfall, and, at Harvard, students live in houses supervised by faculty members, staff and resident tutors. Recently, Dartmouth College announced that it was abolishing all single-sex fraternities. DartmouthÆs trustees and new president indicated that the school ômust begin to change its fraternity-dominated social cultureàand must stamp out alcohol abuse.ö

The crux of the problem presented by this issue is the extent to which a college should interfere with the social and private lives of individuals attending its school. While some believe a school has a duty to act in loco parentis, others reject such a paternalistic approach as a subtle method by which the morals of the administration can be inflicted upon the individual students. An analysis of the political opinions of J.S. Mills, Gerald Dworkin and Patrick Devlin, as well as any law applicable this issue, provides insight into both sides of this legal and philosophical argument.


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College Control of Social Life of its Students. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 08:21, February 18, 2019, from