Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Dormitory Socratic Club

For various reasons, I have given up the idea I mentioned 5 or 6 months ago of trying to establish a "virtuous living" special interest hallway in the dorm my wife and I supervise. At this particular university, it would be a tremendous challenge at any time. Unfortunately, the first level of approval it would need to receive would have to come from someone whom it would be difficult to persuade, and even more difficult to turn into a positive advocate for it. And I have better things to do with my life than tilting at windmills.

But, I HAVE decided to establish a weekly discussion group this fall (night pending issuance of fall TV schedules; no sense being up against Survivor). We "Residence Hall Directors"** are required to oversee a certain amount of programming in the dorm, and what that programming is constituted of is largely left up to us. My plan is to create a discussion group modeled on the ideas of the "Oxford Socratic Club." When I was an undergrad here, dorm discussion principally revolved around whose fake id was least likely to get confiscated, and which "blow off" classes didn't require attendance at anything more than the final. But the few times someone did have the temerity to conduct an actual intellectual debate, we all ate it up. So, my hope is to do that here. Roughly 60% of the students are Catholic or Protestant (at least technically), 30% Jewish, and 10% "miscellAYNeous" (in the words of Rev. Lovejoy). We shall see how it goes, but I am optimistic, and plan to spend some time this summer drafting some rules, as well as a paper or two to present while students are still figuring out just what the heck I am talking about.

Any suggestions?

**The Language Police have once again decreed that students do not live in "dormitories" ("which are more like barracks, with big open bays and lots of beds blah blah blah") but instead "Residential Living and Learning Centers." Really, it's impossible to parody this stuff.)


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