For the past 10 years, Beloit College in Wisconsin has released an annual “Mindset
List” for the incoming freshman class, attempting to encapsulate the changing worldviews of each year’s newest college students. This year’s list of 70 is meant to define the world for 18-year-olds.
As the most recent list points out, this year’s typical freshman lives in a world where the Soviet Union no longer exists, where bottled water is standard fare and where virtual reality, for many, is more tangible than the real thing.
As a senior with one foot out the door and the other struggling to follow, it makes me wonder about Temple’s class of 2011. What will specifically define their experiences as Temple students? What will define the university they have inherited and
what will they pass on to other freshmen four years from now?
Many of the changes since 2004, when many of today’s seniors started at Temple, simply reflect the changing technologies that continue to permeate all facets of our culture. One cannot cross Broad Street without the walk signal chirping like a robotic bird of prey, ominously perched and waiting to strike the unsuspecting jaywalker. The iPod-to-student ratio
must certainly be edging close to 100 percent.
One of the most prominent changes that comes to mind is that the class of 2011 is entering a Temple University where air conditioning is now a permanent fixture in Johnson and Hardwick residence halls, once notorious for their year-round saunalike temperatures.
It is a Temple University where students can monitor washing machines online using eSuds, rather than get up early on a Saturday morning to stake out a machine.
A short walk around campus will reveal that Temple’s landscape is in a continuous state of transformation. Current freshmen have never known life before the TECH Center. This relatively new building will undoubtedly spare them the frustration of waiting on the noisy dot matrix printers that once greeted every visitor to Paley Library, more fit for a museum than a computer lab.
Freshmen will have other new amenities to enjoy upon the addition of the Tyler School of Art and the completion of Alter Hall in 2009.
It is lamentable that, unless Temple’s freshmen have been fervent viewers of syndicated television their whole lives, to them, Bill Cosby will always have been just a vocal activist for progress in the black community, his acting and comedy careers mere footnotes in his biography. John Chaney will always be the standard of comparison for Temple basketball coaches, but the number of students who had the chance to see him in action is steadily declining.
All of these changes are glaringly obvious to the upperclassmen whose college experience began before many of these new faces, buildings and electronic comforts came into play. But it would be unfair to hold the increasing ease of student life at Temple against its newer classes.
Just like they can’t help that MTV no longer shows music videos, as the “Mindset List” astutely observes, freshmen cannot help that they’re entering a university ripe with change.
It is a future that Temple students old and new can look forward to.
Brian Krier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.