The title phrase is Latin for "In place of parents." In my college days, circa 1962, it was the policy of many schools to act as a surrogate parent, watching out for the student's welfare. In practice this meant the imposition of various rules designed to protect the women's (assumed) virginity and, not coincidentally, prevent the kind of drunk-and-disorderly free for all that Animal House documented so well. Women were locked up in their dorms and sororities after 1 AM Friday and Saturday nights and after 10:30 PM (without special permission, extending until midnight) the rest of the week. Of course we had work-arounds, but these were variously uncomfortable and inconvenient. Trust me, "Makin' love in the green grass, behind the stadium" sounds better when Van Morrison sings about it than it felt in real life, what with ants, rocks, grass stains and all.
So what changed? The times, to quote another oldie. My awareness of the changes dates to the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley, though nobody knew what would come of it at the time. Back in 1964 UC students, apparently starved for intellectual debate and free expression, demonstrated, rioted and, as I recall, burned at least one police car. In central Illinois it mostly puzzled us, not being aware that our First Amendment rights were in any danger. Besides, for most of the year the weather was too nasty for us rabble to hang around outside and be roused.
But those events marked, if they didn't create, a shift in the culture.T
here wasthe specious argument that "If 18 is old enough to be drafted then it's old enough to...." drink booze, vote, whatever. Lower drinking and voting ages, the end of campus purdah for women, radical politics as part of college life, all followed. Then The Pill, interesting drugs, and anti-war demonstrations. Pretty soon it was the 60's that everyone remembers, and "In loco parentis" was gone. For a while, anyway.
Time passed. The students of my generation got to be in charge and campuses were liberalized in every sense of the word. My generation's now retiring, our children are running things and our grandchildren are students. How's that working out?
Well, binge drinking and drugs we never imagined are common and cheap. Sex, ditto. Don't believe me? Read the news, or better, "Texts From Last Night." Women participate as enthusiastically as men---well, some, anyway. It's hard to tell since those that don't, don't text about it. At the same time the news is full of "rape culture" stories, how booze and drugs fuel the abuse of innocent (but foolish) young women. It's hard to tell how real, or how serious, this is, since all the headline stories turn out to be lies.*
How about free speech, open discussion of controversial issues? Yeah, that's fine, as long as those ideas are "progressive." Try to introduce social or fiscal conservatism, or even some aspects of libertarian philosophy, and you're guilty of hate speech. Sure, you can say controversial things like "Maybe we shouldn't kill babies..." but only in the designated "free speech zones." Those are somewhere behind the stadium, where the green grass was torn up to build a parking lot for the new LBGTQ Center. In that center the intellectual consensus is typified by the idea that The Vagina Monologues is discriminatory because it doesn't include women without vaginas, i.e. transgendered men. If by some chance there is a conservative faculty member or student who speaks out, that person is treated pretty much the way Communists were in the 50's. Don't believe it? Ask Teresa Wagner, Mike Adams, and James Enstrom. Ask Ruth Malhotra and Orit Sklar, two brave young women who were vilified and threatened when they sued Georgia Tech over its speech code. (Where were the men? Well you may ask.)
What's the upshot? Welcome to In Loco Parentis on steroids. For sex, there are affirmative consent protocols requiring question-and-answer routines at every stage of sexual involvement. Pretty soon we'll have forms to be signed and notarized at each juncture, bringing a whole new meaning to "threesome." As to speech, now there are "trigger warnings" required in classes so students can flee with their ears covered in case they might hear something that "invalidates their experience." Students need "safe spaces" in which they can blow bubbles, squeeze Play-Doh, and watch puppy videos to recover from the trauma of disagreement. Students even need to be protected from "microaggressions," seemingly innocuous comments that might be interpreted by the ultra-sensitive as some sort of put-down. Consider the new Ithaca College tattletale policy, for instance. Question such dehumanizing idiocy, even if you're a card-carrying liberal feminist, and you get the same kind of treatment the conservatives do. Ask Laura Kipnis.
In short, what we have is the university acting in loco of the very worst kind of helicopter parentis, making what is laughably called higher education into the very worst kind of preschool swaddling.
For almost everybody, that is. There seems to be one exception to all this tender concern.
Jews. Colleges readily invite the most vile antisemitism on the part of Boycott, Divest and Sanction advocates. That's under the cover of sympathy for the poor distressed Palestinians---you know, the ones who shoot rockets into Israel. The ones who celebrated in the streets on 9/11/01. Hamas. Hezbolla. Those people. Jews apparently don't need safe spaces and are ineligible to report micro- or even macro- aggressions. Colleges are, on the one hand, infantilizing a whole generation of students and on the other, breeding a new generation, less disciplined but just as enthusiastic, of Hitler Youth.
No, it's not the 60's anymore. Welcome to 1933.
* Here's one that wasn't. It's worth noting that it didn't happen at a frat party and wasn't reported by the woman, who might have been drugged. It hardly fits the Rolling Stone model, and since the accused rapists are black I doubt if there'll be any liberal white media outrage.