Having spent the better part of the last two days in Chapel Hill for Riley’s pre-enrollment orientation, I have now been officially exposed to all the latest jargon from the world of academia.
Riley has received orientation in how to be a college student while I have received orientation in how to be the parent of a collegian.
Regardless of the setting, however, if you listen closely, you’ll hear the same words and phrases over and over . . . and over.
So what am I hearing this year?
1. First year student. When I entered college back in 1980, I was a freshman. So were all my classmates. Riley? Oh no. He is a first year. Why? Can’t you tell? Freshman is an inherently sexist term.
2. Sustainability. Sustainable dorms. Sustainable food. Sustainable communities. Sustainable sustenance. A noble cause to ensure that we don’t use more resources than we actually have.
3. Diversity. Diversity is a strong value here at Chapel Hill. Diversity of race, income level, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and primary language. I like Good Shepherd’s phrase “full color” better as well as the way we have a radical unity of allegiance — to Jesus — that supports of diversity of backgrounds. Nevertheless, there is quite a collection of people coming to this quaint college town.
4. Globalization. See Number 3, above. Yet globalization refers specifically to the interconnectedness of North America and Asia in particular, as this school is replete with students from the Far East and the subcontinent of India.
5. Pluralism. All ideas and religions are equally valid. The only absolute truth is that there is no absolute truth. Figure that one out.