The Moral Threats Of College Life – What are We Doing To Protect Our Young People?

Colleges and Universities are usually thought to be a place where knowledge is conferred. But one is justified; it seems, in questioning whether knowledge can be conferred in settings where common sense and prudence are so gravely lacking. Here are excerpts from an article today in the Washington Examiner:

New Jersey’s flagship state university has decided to allow male and female students to share rooms in three dorms in an effort to make the Rutgers’ New Brunswick campus more inclusive for gay students after a highly publicized suicide last year.

Starting this fall, all students — whether gay, lesbian, transgender or heterosexual — can choose either male or female roommates under the pilot program. Men and women will share bathrooms.

A similar, but smaller, pilot program is being launched at the Newark campus.

A number of other schools, including the University of Maryland, New York’s Columbia University and Washington’s George Washington University, offer similar housing options….

Rutgers got wide attention last year after freshman Tyler Clementi killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River. Authorities say that days before, his roommate in a dorm used a webcam to capture Clementi during an intimate encounter with another man…..[Following] there was increased scrutiny of the way gay, lesbian and transgender students are sometimes treated on campus….

These are excerpts full article is here: Rutgers Allows….

The absurdity and imprudence of campus life grows graver with each decade. College Campuses, as a general rule, are a grave threat to the moral life of the students who attend. Students, who need clear guidance on moral issues, are thrown by faculty and parents into a moral cesspool of drugs, alcohol, and illicit sexual union. The irresponsibility of college faculty and administrators is nothing short of horrifying.

Of course we have journeyed to this latest absurdity of males and females sharing dorm rooms in stages.

Many years ago many colleges were not even co-ed, due to the reasonable premise that sexual temptation and distractions were problematic in a learning environment. Those colleges that were co-ed carefully segregated the young men and women in separate dorm buildings altogether. Women’s dorms were carefully protected. A guard in the front lobby limited access, and if a young woman had a male visitor she would come down to the lobby and meet him there. Men were not allowed beyond the lobby.

Now I was not born yesterday, and I surely know that there may have been some sneaking around and use of back entrances and fire escapes. But in the end, colleges had strict policies that both discouraged fornication and limited opportunities for the behavior. This was prudent and responsible.

By the late sixties boundaries began to disappear and faculty and college administrators began to shed their sense of responsibility for the moral life of the students. This, of course, is one of the more serious problems of the modern age wherein we no longer share a moral vision and/or have a care for the moral condition of one another. Never mind the terrible toll that all the drinking, drugs and sex has on the young men and women. The dangerous behaviors, the STDs, pregnancy, abortion and moral confusion, never mind all that. That is “none of our business.”

It is a malfeasance due to the utter neglect shown by those who ought to have greater care for the overall well-being of the students. To them the Lord has this to say, It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin (Luke 17:2)

Through the 1970s and into the 80s common dorm buildings for men and women become more the norm. There was the fiction of separate floors, but what is a staircase to desirous tweens and twenty-somes.

The next absurdity was common bathroom facilities on mixed floors. Why did the women even tolerate such an indignity? Even as a male, I would never have gone to a college where they would suggest to me the absurdity of shared toilet stalls and showers for men and women together.

And now the final blow: “Just let ‘em shack up openly,”  as an officially sanctioned university policy. After all, who really cares about their moral life? Who’s really to say anyway? Or so the stinking thinking seems to be.

And then, just to add more absurdity, the leap is made that somehow all of this is really meant to be “gay-friendly.” What young college men and women shacking up has to do with affirming the gay lifestyle is surely opaque to me. To someone such as me, uninitiated in the sexual revolution, the explanation the university gives about this connection still makes no sense, even once it is offered. Living in the same dorm room says only one thing to me: fornication is fine. Of course it isn’t fine and colleges ought not encourage such imprudent and, I would add, sinful behavior.

I don’t know what I would do if I were a parent today. I don’t think I could send my kids off to most colleges or universities. I’d have to look carefully for a traditional Catholic College.

Some argue we have to send them off to the big name places so they can get a good career. To this Jesus has something to say, What does it profit a person to gain the whole world and lose his soul? (Mark 8:36). We need to re-examine our priorities. What is more important, the degree and career, or one’s soul? Parents usually want to know something of the tuition costs of college and will often go up with their kid to orientation. But do they ask to meet with the Catholic Chaplain? Do they assess the moral climate? Do they insist on proper housing and reasonable moral safeguards for their children?

And we clergy too have to think about this. For it often happens that someone will say, “Great News!, My Kid just got a full scholarship to Harvard or Columbia or whatever.” And we clergy say, “Great!” when what we should say is, “Ok, now who is going to preach the Gospel to your kid up there so he stands a chance of not losing his soul?” For it is quite possible, in the current moral climate of college, for a reasonably decent kid to go in, come out a Harvard lawyer,  but be headed straight for hell. How serious are we clergy in speaking to our departing college kids about the moral climate and the need to resist it? Even before they pick a college, how insistent are we that they look for a moral climate better that Rutgers et al.?

As for me, I do gather my departing college students and give them the “stay with Jesus talk.” We do try and connect them with the local Catholic parish or Newman center. I want them to enter the college scene with sobriety (pardon the pun), and realizing that they are often heading for a real moral swamp, that they had better not wade in. But I need to do more. I need a small cadre of volunteers to call our students regularly and make sure they are getting to Mass, going to confession and avoiding sin.

We have to do better by our children than to send them to moral swamps. Where are the outraged parents and alumni of these colleges? Places like Rutgers can only get away with this sort of absurd plan because parents and alumni either don’t care, or are silent. We too, if we remain silent are part of the problem. I told a certain college I once did some studies with, that they would never get a dime or a recommendation from me as an alumnus until they cleaned up their moral act.

To end on a positive note, there ARE some very good Catholic colleges out there that still care for the moral life of the young people entrusted to their care. The Cardinal Newman Society keeps a pretty good watch on the health of Catholic Colleges and has issued a guide “Choosing a Catholic College”  to assist parents and college bound students in seeking a healthy moral and academic environment that is in conformity with Catholic teaching.

We need to be serious. Many colleges are a serious threat out children’s moral welfare and eternal salvation. Orate et vigilate! (pray and be watchful!)

Photo Credit: New Brunswick City, NJ (Right Click for Properties).

69 Replies to “The Moral Threats Of College Life – What are We Doing To Protect Our Young People?”

  1. And sadly the cost of going to a good Catholic college… is very expensive, to say the least. College students incur large amounts of debt so as to protect their souls while seeking knowledge. A price worth paying? Well, it’s certainly better than the alternative. I know from personal experience that it can be very difficult, however. Attending a solid Catholic university cost me $60,000 that I didn’t have. It also assisted me in discerning a vocation to the religious life. And now that I’m graduated, I’m in limbo trying to pay off my debt to answer the Lord’s call.

    1. Yes, you are right, the cost of college is becoming a huge scandal. Many of these colleges sport rather weighty social justice perspectives where they lecture to us about justice and then charge 60K for the privilege of attending their well endowed campuses. How about a little relief for the poor?! As I work with the poor in the city I can say that college isn’t even a dream for most of them. It is simply unthinkable. And yet, most elites tie success to a college degree. Are there no other options, no other roads to success? I have met other people in your predicament where they may have a vocation to religious life but the communities cannot accept them due simply to debt related to college. I think we need to develop other options than college. Trade Schools were once respectable alternatives to college and permitted access into the trades. If there were competition to to college degrees, I’ll bet the tuition would drop.

      1. I agree with the above statements.
        Tuition would also go down though if the government was not involved in student lending. The “financial aid” and low-interest loans offered by the government to allegedly helps students afford school when they normally couldn’t, in fact encourages schools to compete to have the most appealing facilities, nicest dorms, newest technology, rather than achieving the best results (well educated students). The result is massively higher tuitions and more borrowing followed by very heavy debts carried by recent college graduates, with no better results in the end.
        This is an unintended consequence of further government intervention in the education system. It would be better for people looking to help others afford school by increasing school endowments, contributing to scholarship programs, etc. This would help the money get to the people who most need/deserve it without the resulting massive increase in tuition.

      2. I know of at least one orthodox college (Christendom College) that forgives all college supplied student loans for alumni who become fully professed religious or priests. I know this isn’t of any help to “just a dre” (sorry!), but I wanted to throw that out there as something to consider before you choose a college.

        Keeping your children away from the moral cesspool that most mainstream colleges have become is well worth the extra difficulties of attending a “real” Catholic college. I was raised in a strong, faithful family, but I wouldn’t risk myself (much less my children) in such an environment when I was 18. Now, as an adult, sure, I’d feel confident in my ability to keep my faith in such an environment, but that’s because of the educated adult I became by going to an orthodox college.

        For parents who are horrified by the continuing moral degeneration of established colleges, I want to encourage them that a good, orthodox Catholic college, (yes, even a small private Catholic school that doesn’t accept federal student aid), is NOT out of the reach of the average middle class student. Those numbers may look impossible, but if you think outside of the box there’s a lot you can do to make it more affordable.

        I was able to graduate from just such a school and, two years later, am now debt free, despite the fact that my father lost his job my first semester and I was solely responsible for paying.

        Here are some of the strategies that worked for me:
        1. The student should work as a teenager and save their earnings. You should give your children the understanding that their parents can’t pay for their degree, therefore if they want to go to college they will have to pay for it.
        2. The student should have a job or jobs while taking classes. At one point, I had three part-time jobs.
        3. Take Community College classes in the basics (math, science, languages) that will transfer more easily. This enabled me only spend 3 years at the Catholic college. My parents were able to pay for these much cheaper classes.
        4. It’s okay to start late. There’s no reason why you have to start when you’re 18, and can’t get out there and work for a few years to save up money.
        5. It’s also okay to take more than four years. By the time I had my BA, I’d been taking college classes for 6 years (but I started in high school).
        6. If possible, live at home and commute to school.
        7. Have really good grades and test scores to maximize your scholarships. If your grades are marginal, ask yourself if college is really for you. You can make a good living and support a family at a skilled trade, such as electrician, HVAC, or plumber. With those skills, you might even be able to be your own boss someday, which a teacher or doctor will likely never be.

    2. You might want to check this group out: . As their website states, they “assists aspirants to priesthood or religious life who find themselves unable to answer their call due to personal debt”.

  2. Colleges are like forums. You’re bound to find good and bad stuff there. But if you actually live what the Church teaches in your family, you’ll prepare your kids for any temptation anywhere – including in your own household.

    Teachers who teach evil? Report them, just as you would report a dissenting priest. Go up the chain of command without discouragement, until the matter is settled. You might even be mistaken. But either way, the matter – be it actual evil or your mistake – will be settled.

    Don’t complain about days getting eviler. You know by faith that the last days will be greatly evil. If we are in the last days, than be humble, not surprised by evil. If we aren’t in the last days, than be humble, not whiny about evil.

    Finally, we are all sinners. If there is evil afoot, it is because we haven’t prayed enough. We must realize that our works affect the world. We must realize that salvation comes from Christ through the Church. So we must be responsible.

    1. Yes, indeed, even in bad settings there are good things to be found. I am not sure that I like your point about “Don’t complain about days getting eviler.” I am not complaining, I am denouncing what is wrong and encouraging people to have a righteous anger about it that will energize them to awareness and action.

      1. Nick,

        It occurs to me you may be confusing ‘complaining and whining about evil’ with practicing spiritual works of mercy and charity toward our neighbor. I may be wrong, but when you say we must be responsible, I assume you are exorting us to continue to exercise the seven works of spiritual mercy? The seven practices of Catholic charity or mercy toward our neighbor’s soul are:

        » Admonish sinners » Instruct the ignorant » Counsel the doubtful » Comfort the sorrowful » Bear wrongs patiently » Forgive injuries » Pray for the living and the dead

      2. Hi,

        I tend to see a lot of commenters go overboard on the last days of the world, blaming everything and everyone, and in general forgetting that Jesus prophecized the wickedness of the last days. So I sometimes I tend to have that strange worldview in mind when I hear people talking about days getting eviler, because sensationalism bugs me. My apologies. Pray for me.

        1. Well said. Your concern is valid. Personally, one of the charisms I most appreciate about this board is it’s gift and ability to address divisive disturbing issues while in the end producing a more rational and balanced point of view. I hope you experience this here as well, it’s my pleasure to pray for you, thanks for asking.

  3. Genesis Chapter 3 tells us that God deceived Adam and Eve by not telling them the full consequences of eating the fruit of knowledge and it also tells us that death by sin did not come into fruition by disobedience.

    It was the desire for knowledge and the gaining of a conscience that caused Adam and Eve to “become like God”. This threat to his omnipotence caused him such a big scare that he cursed them and denied them eternal life. (The bible never explains why he changes his mind and makes eternal life mandatory for everyone.)

    The irony of this story is that God put this on himself by creating Adam and Eve, the consequences of which he should have foreseen. God’s plans often go awry in the bible. God also placed temptation in the Garden in the form of trees and was responsible for putting all the circumstances in place that led to the fall from grace. A perfect God who foresees the future and creates an imperfect world has acted irresponsibly.

    If humans were to be responsible, fairness and justice requires that God gave Adam and Eve knowledge and a conscience – the tools needed to make informed decisions, understand consequences, be less susceptible to deception, give them free will, enable them to build their own character and be responsible for their own thoughts, emotions and actions; and able to manage their own personal behavior. The fact he had not intentions of doing so and cursed them for gaining this ability is odd for a deity so hung up on behavior patterns.

    Salvation should not even be necessary since God blamed humanity for his own short comings, and his predilection for cursing/killing innocent people to forgive the guilty goes against moral justice and personal responsibility. Before sin, it seems that humans were doomed to extinction, but Paul says sin was decreed so the Jesus could rise from the dead which means Eve was framed and God is malicious and deceptive. The bible also tells us that God created sin when he created the Mosaic Law and before that time no one knew what sin was. This also shows humans to not be responsible.

    God’s inability to plan well, foresee the future or take responsibility for his actions shows him to be morally corrupt and not worthy of admiration or adoration. His inability to forgive without bloodshed shows he is not all-powerful, benevolent and his love is fallible because of his sadistic desire for blood. A God who creates a hell and puts people there by mere error or simple disbelief is a sadistic God who cares more about his ego than how we treat others. His fear of intelligence and being questioned shows his lack of security. His inability to stop an insurrection in his own domain shows he is not all-powerful and allowing evil so he can prove himself shows he is malevolent. A God who can see the future and knows he has to murder humans and send them to eternal torture is a God who premeditated murder and pain for his creation. God and Jesus were partial to the Jews, only the apostles reluctantly included Gentiles in salvation. God’s jealousy, wrath, sadism, partiality, injustice, insecurity, malevolence, fear of the truth and being a tempter and needing to prove himself makes him look like Satan disguised as a loving God.

    If the killing of innocence to forgive the guilty can be passed off as moral and ethical, what obscenity or atrocity is left that can be called immoral?

    The Christian idea of moral authority (leadership by choice) is actually known as formal authority (leadership by position) which creates a co-dependent society. An extreme example of a formal authority is Adolf Hitler.

    Authoritative cultures create co-dependency and dis-empowers people’s ability to use their intelligence capacities. An authoritarian leader controls people and tells them what to do. It creates a culture that passively obeys. They wait until they are told and then do what they are told which confirms the perception of the need for the leader to control and command, which justifies the passivity of the followers. It becomes a self-fulfilled prophecy that is a downward spiral.

    This dis-empowers people’s capacities and intelligences. It turns them into things to be controlled or managed. It nurtures a culture where doing right is defined by compliance or loyalty and doing wrong lies in getting caught being disobedient or disloyal.

    This spawns dysfunctional disagreement where people say yes when they really mean no. It discourages healthy conflict and births resentment, anger, malicious obedience and low trust. These unexpressed feelings never die, but are buried alive and surface later in uglier ways.

    The authoritarian then carries the responsibility for the results, managing people with rules and methods that take the place of the human ability to think reasonably, analyze critically and make informed decisions. Everyone becomes self-serving and subordinates their integrity for pleasing the boss. This is especially dangerous when you have different people claiming God tells them different things. This opens the door to things such as being untrusting and prejudiced against non-believers or those whom they like to discriminate because the person or group is disobedient to their assumed moral/ethical laws.

    Churches who teach people that they are helpless & cannot use personal power, self-improvement or intelligence to build their character, learn valuable principles of social interdependence without god are institutions of ignorance, human indecency & racists towards the human race. They show a lack of understanding of human nature and psychology. Christianity enforces the same type of behavioral problems of causing addictions to blind faith that cause addictions to drugs & alcohol. When you blame outside sources for your thoughts, emotions & actions, you look to outside sources to help save, change or distract you. There is a snag of such magnitude that it makes the Christian theology completely useless….RESPONSIBILITY.

    The bible tells us to rely on faith, not reason. Faith – which is not based on knowledge, experience or rational thought from arising doubt, replaces the search for truth. Faith is a cop out. If the only way you can accept an assertion is by faith then you are conceding that it cannot be accepted by its own merits. Ignorance is content to stand with its back turned to the truth.

    Belief in God & Jesus as Savior is the only way for man to escape damnation, but Paul claims that it is impossible to comprehend God, which makes it impossible to understand him. This makes studying the bible, going to church, asking for clarity & proselytizing useless. This image of a humanity incapable of grasping concepts is a fit companion for the Christian requirement that people accept it on faith alone. Hunger for knowledge caused the downfall of humanity.

    The putdown of intelligence & any use of the intellect is so woven into the Bible that it must be concluded that one must strive to be dumb, gullible, unquestioning & imprudent (lacking discretion, wisdom, or good judgment) to accept Christian theology & that those who are not are doomed. Intelligence leads to hellfire and Paul writes several times that God destroys & confounds the wisdom of the wise. The bible tells us that the “gift of reason” which apparently makes us higher than animals maybe be the match that lights the fires of hell for all who dare use it, since whatever is not faith is sin.

    A God who controls and sees everything surely does not need petitions prayers from arrogant humans who feel the need to tell him his business. A God whose actions sway due to human input is a God without purpose or plan and humans, not God, are responsible for the results. As long as humans have free will, God’s will is subject to frustration. A God who runs and controls everything cannot be reconciled with the human ability and duty to act of free will. Human responsibility negates a need for a god or salvation.

    Christianity is a sadist religion and formal authority consisting of psychological terrorism that treats passive obedience, delusions, injustice, irresponsibility and the killing of innocence as the only way to true forgiveness as moral virtues. The use of faith to avoid contrary evidence to its beliefs and delusions and to avoid resolving its inconsistencies is to convey that striving to be dumb, gullible, imprudent and unquestioning is honorable, honest and virtuous.

    1. I used to believe the same as you, Bobby Eaton. I was a dyed-in-the-wool atheist from the age of 10, though I attended Catholic grade school and high school. Then, over a period of years, God first opened my eyes to the factual existence of non-materal realities, then led me in my personal journey for truth (back) to the Catholic Church at the age of 24. I know He wants to do the same for you. Keep your eyes open and your ears pricked for His waving hand and call. I am praying for you.

    2. I hope you get the help you need, Mr. Eaton. You atheist types probably have no idea how angry and miserable and pathetic you sound. You all sound exactly the same, endlessly repeating the same five or six rhetorical tropes over and over again: “Reason and evidence! Look how smart and rational I am compared to you stupid ignorant christian fascists with your bronze age fairy stories and your evil sadistic imaginary fairy sky daddy!” Why you think you are attracting anyone to share your point of view is a mystery to me, and why you think we should care about your sophomoric rantings and ravings is an ever bigger mystery.

    3. Sir, Could you tell me exactly what your rant has to do with the issue. You’re an atheist. Congratulations. Do you also think that promiscuity is a good thing? In New York City where I live 40% of all pregnancies terminate with abortion. Nationwide, sexually transmitted diseases are increasing at an alarming rate. Single parenthood is becoming the norm and as a consequence children are the fastest growing segment of Americans living in poverty. Rather than regurgitating arguments from the atheist handbook why don’t you talk about how we can address these issues, from a secular perspective if you wish. And why do you bother making the same tired statements on a Catholic oriented site? I think you’ve got some personal issues that you need to work out. Lots of luck.

  4. Sick alright. I remember when mixed dorms started in the sixties. That is when it all started. These were decades of moral degeneracy from which we have never recovered. One thinks that only a miracle can save us.

  5. Traditional Christian’s perhaps should unite to legislatively demand sex separated and professionally “security” protected dorms especially for girls who want to live and study at taxpayer funded campuses. Christian landords should be encouraged and perhaps incented; possibly by the financial arm of the Knights of Columbus, to provide private off campus low cost housing with “traditional rules” for students with “Traditional Values” in the interim. It might be wise to encourage public boycotts of Universities that do not provide a morally “sane” environment for students. Catholic Universities perhaps could also try to “step up” by providing low cost education to rival public schools and provide viable altenatives for average income and poor Americans. If the majority of Americans really don’t care then America may just may have to hit “rock bottom” before they start to “get it.”

      1. Msgr,

        I love this idea:

        “Catholic Universities perhaps could also try to “step up” by providing low cost education to rival public schools and provide viable altenatives for average income and poor Americans. If the majority of Americans really don’t care then America may just may have to hit “rock bottom” before they start to “get it.”

        We all know that the standard college education costs more than its worth and is a bad bargain. The Church has the fullness of truth and countless intellectual and moral resources. Imagine the cultural transformation that could take place if She made a concerted effort to provide a low-cost, morally sound alternative to the bloated state university system.

  6. Those of us with children entering college in the next few years carry a heavy cross There are only a very few orthodox Catholic colleges and they are out of reach financially and geographically for an average middle class family. Many of us are one income families because we have chosen to homeschool our children. We have beautiful, carefully brought up sons and daughters who are turning 18 and our society and sadly our Church has given us no alternatives to the state university system. I would propose that the bishops get together and make sure there is an affordable orthodox college in every region of the country. I feel it is more important than the parish grade school or even high school because Dad and Mom are still in charge at that stage. Let’s put our resources where the danger to souls is the greatest. While the bishops are at it, how about a Catholic pharmacy in every diocese so that we can get our medications without contributing to corporations that sell abortifacient drugs? The Vatican has its own pharmacy.

    1. Well said. I also know that a BIG factor in having kids at a university is parental involvement. Hence, even if your children have to go to a less than desireable situation, your active interest and careful involvement can be a critical factor. Find the newman club or Campus ministry and see what sort of condition that is in too. THere are many excellent campus ministry programs even in questionable college settings.

    2. You’d be surprised at how willing many of these smaller, more traditional Catholic colleges can be in working with “average middle class families” to provide an affordable traditional Catholic liberal education. (I work at one of these schools, but I won’t mention which; I don’t want to appear to be advertising.) Call or write to the financial aid departments and see what their policies are. There are service scholarship programs, grants, and other means of securing aid. Most of these schools undertake massive fundraising efforts to ensure that funding is available to students who are willing and able to attend. It might be more affordable than you think.

    3. Anne, we have a large family and live on one income (self-employed). I didn’t think we would ever be able to send our kids to college. Today our two eldest are in small Catholic colleges – one at Thomas Aquinas in CA and the other at Wyoming Catholic. The colleges have been very generous with finanical aid and they also work to keep the student debt load under 20,000. Their policy has been “if you are accepted,we’ll try to find the money to help you come.” You’ll never know unless your child applies. That said – we were in a better position for help because of our low income. We know a family with an over 100,000 salary that is having a hard time with college payments (they don’t qualify for aid), but they also made many poor financial choices pre-college. If college is part of God’s plan for your child’s vocation, it will work out. But you have to ask first.

      As you said, there should be more small orthodox colleges, one in every state or at least region. But – and it’s a bit one – Catholics have to put their money where their mouth is. The small colleges that exist have a heck of a time raising money. Tuition never covers the full cost of running the colleges and paying the professors (often fathers of large families). There’s a lot of money out there, but it’s a full time effort to get the wealthy to part with their money easily and support Catholic education.

  7. Wow, this gives new meaning to ignorance is bliss! The Fellowship of Catholic University Students, FOCUS, is a lay apostolate of campus missionaries devoted to the evangelization of college campuses. I understand they’re having a positive impact. Hopefully the local Bishops of theses campuses will call on their support, but I’m sure FOCUS could use our support as well.

  8. Thank you Msgr for your article. Yes, parents should be outraged but most aren’t. They have been desensitized early on in their children’s lives to the inappropriately early oversexualization of our culture, so that by the time their kids are ready for college, they can’t even see the moral swamp they are sending their kids into. This applies to both publc and parochial schools. I ultimately removed my daughter from a Catholic elemenatary school, for this among other reasons, due to the culture and the lack of realization on the part of the school administration on the effect this would have on the students as they approached middle school and beyond. Everyone thinks it won’t happen to them because their kids are “good.” The outrage needs to start much earlier, from the time they are in preschool, with inappropriate outfits, music, TV, books, and manmade idols. Morals, values, and the Faith need to be taught from the beginning and everyday and we need to be witnesses by our example. Point out to your children why you won’t let them do something or why something is wrong. Teach them early how to discern whether something is consistent with our Lord’s teaching. Most importantly, seek out like minded people for support and have them make friends with those people. Actually, THE most important, Pray that your children are guided and protected.

    1. Agreed. THank you for these important insights. I am sad to hear that you had to remove your child from a Catholic elementary school. It would seem questionable things do reach even to these levels in some areas.

  9. What about a secular university that has a great Catholic campus center? I am the director of one of these centers and we offer solid formation in the Catholic faith. Our students are offered daily Confession, catechetical and theological classes, spiritual direction and many other opportunities to support their Catholic faith. Catholic colleges and universities have much to offer but not everyone can afford to attend them. The guarantee of orthodoxy is greater at a Catholic center since the centers are normally staffed by priests assigned directly by the bishop. The most important question for students is not where they will go to college, but rather, what will they do when they get there.

    1. Well said Father, things are not always as simple as finding a good Catholic College. Most of my college bound kids go to secular or state universities and I try to connect them with the Newman club or the Campus ministry. Your other point is well said too, Catholic Chaplains appointed by the bishop are usually more orthodox since so many of the orders that run many prominent “Catholic” colleges have become deeply troubled.

  10. I agree that it is not a good thing for men and women to be sharing the same room but at the same time I don’t know what is the best thing to do about homosexual students. When i was in college I certainly would not have been happy or comfortable sharing a room with a lesbian but putting her with a man doesn’t sound like a good alternative either. The situation would probably be even worse with male homosexuals. I think that all future dorm buildings should be built with rooms half the size and be for single students only, but that doesn’t solve the problem of the current dorms. We also can’t compare the times to 50 years ago and say “sharing a room with a homosexual student was never a problem before” because now that homosexuality is something to be “celebrated” and “embraced” students are going to be a lot more open and celebrate it, making potential roomates more uncomfortable.

    1. I understand the problem as you describe it. However, why solve a problem involving an unusual sexual problem by blowing the lid off common sense? And you are right, the problem has become worse with all this celebratory attitude about homosexual behavior. I don’t suppose I ever knew the sexual orientation of my dorm mates. We just didn’t discuss such things. I just presumed they were heterosexual.

  11. Msgr. Pope, an excellent essay. I, for one, am one of those outraged parents, and my daughter hasn’t even gone to college yet! I’ve spent the last six months traveling to Catholic colleges (mostly ones on the Newman list) and finding even there the idiotic idea that male and female can share a dorm (dividide by floors or pods) and even in some places share a floor if there is a misproportion of male/female students. Where I come from, it is not appropriate to have someone of the opposite sex even walk past your open bedroom door, let alone be invited to come in a stay a while. During the tour of our local Catholic college, we were lucky to have a student guide who was honest enough to tell us the truth about the “visitation” policy for males on female floors and vice versa. When we asked him what the policy was, and whether the RAs enforced the policy, he admitted, “Oh, they’re not over the top on it. My two best friends are girls and I stay in their room till 2 am a lot of times, and no one cares.” NO ONE CARES? Well, I do. I don’t think I’ll be sending my daughter into that environment. I want to thank you, Msgr Pope for encouraging parents to look into the moral environment on campus, and to give warning to our youth that the place they are about to enter is a “swamp”. Great term, I am going to use that one! As far as the cost of tuition/room & board . . . I heard someone recently quip, “It’s no wonder tuition is so high, they have their own private kingdoms at these campuses.” So true! I do hope and pray that more administrations of Catholic colleges will take the advice you give to be concerned with the moral welfare of their students, over and above their academic welfare.

    1. Thanks for sharing this expereince and for being a concerned parent. In the end it’s going to be up to parents to insist on Colleges doing what is right and prudent.

  12. These are all good points. I am a college professor, and frankly, I seriously question the value of sending a kid to college. The expense is tremendous, and there is no guarantee that you will come away from college more learned unless you choose a school with a highly selective liberal arts or trade emphasis. If you want to prepare for law school or medical school, or study the humanities in depth, then college can be useful. For nearly everyone else, it is probably a waste of time- a very expensive way to get a BA or BS to ensure that you wil be “employable” and have a shot at a well paying job. Add to this the undeniable fact that college is a moral minefield. Kids are under tremendous pressure to engage in lifestyle “experiments” such as sexual experimentation and recreational alcohol and drug use. All the while, they are constantly being bombarded by leftist ideology that hammers home the ideas that religion is a mere social construct, family values are “fascist” limitations on your personal freedom, and that morality is about your personal fulfillment. It is a “perfect storm” and it is a wonder that anyone leaves college morally or intellectually intact. Even though I am a professor, my considered advice is “don’t go to college unless you absolutely have to”. The University is a malignant institution in today’s culture.

    1. Wow, thanks for a great view from the standpoint of a concerned professor. I heartily agree with the point that College should not be so “necessary” in our culture. As you point out, it is good in certain fields. But for others it seems we ought to be less demanding. It a certain way, being less insistent would be more socially just since it would make careers more open to more people.

  13. As a former catholic missionary to college students at a very large state school the disconnection within universities today was very apparent. Not only in the academic realm, where there is little to no unifying vision for curriculum and departments are isolated from one another, but also in the “student life” realm where the idea of a character development and moral formation has been lost for decades (as you show quite clearly). Blessed John Newman in his lecture, “Colleges, the Corrective of Universities” shows how the university needed “colleges” to provide the unruly mob of university students with intellectual, moral, and religious formation that would integrate his mind and heart. Without the college, he explains, the university will inevitably degenerate. Today, it appears, we are witnessing and, in many ways victims, of this degeneration of universities.

  14. The post makes a perfectly good point. I would not send my children to any university with a culture that attacks their character and faith, just as I would not take a job in any business which threatened to undermine my own morals.

    I highly recommend Ave Maria University, where I recently accepted a position in the philosophy department. I have two daughters there who are getting an excellent education, really enjoying college, and growing in the faith.

    University education is not free — professors have studied and trained for many years and need to support their families as well. (I don’t suppose someone would advocate that, after studying seriously for 14 years at Harvard and Edinburgh, I should raise my 13 children on a monk’s stipend.) Nonetheless Ave Maria costs considerably less, and has much greater value, than nearly all alternatives.

    1. Thanks for your insights and for the recommendation. I understand your point about paying reasonable wages. However, college ed has so recently skyrocketed that I am convinced there are other factors in cost too.

  15. As a homeschooling parent and as a lay minister to college students I have become very aware that we have no idea what actually ought to be the goal of education. Do we go to school so that we can get a good job? Or, is the goal a well formed mind that has excellent use of language, a superb understanding of the great thinkers who came before and the virtues necessary for citizenship? I think parents will discover that, if they find a school which emphasizes the later, it will also be a very moral place. If one learns virtue and the ability to think deeply the will actual earn prestige and will not need to rely on a degree from a prestigious university.

  16. This is the most ridiculous policy I’ve ever heard of … why, it’s granting permission and even encouraging sinful behavior.

    When I went to college in the 80s, the dorms were all segregated by gender and there was a huge push for mixed dorms. Eventually, the administration allowed one dorm to have alternating floors for males and females. I lived at home and walked to school (this was a very small town) and remember feeling left out of the party, but secretly I was pleased that I wasn’t subject to peer pressure.

    The parents ought to protest, stop sending their children to these schools. If we don’t fight for our children, who will?

    We’ve just begun to think about the awful moral climate in the universities and I can only hope and pray that enough work will come our way so that we can send our children to good Catholic universities, should they need to (I don’t believe college is for everybody).

    We must pray for our children, and give them a good foundation so that they can resist temptation. It really begins at home.

    By the way, Brigham Young does an excellent job … I really do admire the Mormons for the way they teach their children and most do not fall away from the faith. What can we learn from them?

    Thank you for opening my eyes even more and reminding us to have our priorities straight.

  17. Over this past Christmas I received an email Christmas Greeting from the school I obtained my MBA from. It was professionally put together and sent a nice message, except throughout the Christmas message was “Happy Holidays”. I sent a polite but firm message to the President of the school expressing my concern that a Catholic College would send out a message with “Happy Holidays” throughout it. About a week later I received a reply from the President. Essentially he apologized for the error, reaffirmed the schools commitment to the teachings of the Catholic Church, and promised it would not happen again. My daughter (a junior in HS) had been considering this school as one of her choices. We (my wife and I) have been screening her choices, in light of the response to my concerns, this school has now moved up a notch for further consideration. As you recommend Msrg. ask questions, inquire, and take an active interest in the college and universities your children are considering.

  18. Msgr. Pope, thank you for your insight and thoughtful article. It definitely challenges the way we are viewing the common college experience today; something we do not do often enough.

    While I agree with and understand your overall position, one question comes to mind: what about the students?

    I am a recent CUA graduate and now serve as the sole Catholic Campus Minister at a secular university, where there are shared, co-ed bathrooms in certain residence halls. I completely agree that this endangers the moral life of my students and provides a constant challenge to their prudential judgment.

    Can we not, however, give some credit to these students, Catholic or otherwise? While the University, professors and even parents are throwing these students into “a moral cesspool of drugs, alcohol, and illicit sexual union,” don’t we think that most students are smart enough and faithful enough to resist these types of temptation?

    I agree that they need all the support, prayers and opportunities to participate in the sacraments as possible to overcome a lot of these temptations, but I also think that if given the opportunity, the students themselves will naturally make morally good decisions. I was always taught that the best campus ministry “program” is not offered through a Newman society or a diocese, but through the faithful witness of a roommate or friend. I am hesitant to disregard the good will and temperance of college students so quickly.

    Are these virtuous students I speak of perfectly proclaiming the Gospel every day? Definitely not, but I think the immoral, imprudent moments are when the support of parents, teachers, parish priests, campus ministers and friends come into play the most.

    To a certain extent, this opens up an even bigger discussion about our society. Why is the line drawn with the University alone? The immoral cesspool you speak of is not limited to a college campus, which suggests that our catechesis and our means for evangelization must be better and more effective in the family unit and in our parish communities first. At some point we are going to have to figure out what, ‘not conforming to the world, but being transformed by it’ actually means for today’s young adults.

    Just some thoughts. I appreciate your article and what it is challenging us to do. Thank you.

    1. I would think some students are able to overcome. I guess my point is that they shouldn’t have to. Further, while I agree with your point that some can and do resist, I don’t agree that most students are smart enough etc…. to avoid all this. It seems clear that most students are pretty well swept up into an immoral setting and participating in it to a large degree. In addition, we may like to thing of 18-22 years as adults. They are so legally. But most 18-22 year olds are prone to do some pretty imprudent things and are still under the tutelage of elders. Careful judgment is not often the first strength of such a young age-group. I do not blame them. This is human nature, at least the fallen version of it we are all dealing with. Educators must be more careful not to create or allow dangerous and sin-provoking situations. Near ocassions of sin are wrong and providing for them is to give scandal by promoting and making provision for sin. So I am willing to applaud heroic resistance manifest by some students, but it remains wrong for educators to promote and provide for ocassions of sin.

      1. I graduated in 1991 and no, I don’t think it’s a good idea to throw sheep into the den of wolves, so to speak. Even if a student is able to withstand the pressure, do you really think living in co-ed dorms, being exposed to illegal drugs, alcohol abuse, etc., is an environment that lends itself to helping a young person decide what to do with his or her life?

  19. As a college grad. I feel really tempted to rant about the negativites of college. But that wouldn’t be entirely prudent and so I’ll try to stay positive.

    To me, a proven positive outcome of our current situation is is that College produces (like gold tested in fire) some of the best witnesses to the truth of the Gospel ever, in my opinion. I have come across numerous men and women who have withstood all sorts of temptation and have come out with great knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.

    To me then it’s tough enough to spend a lot to go to College but to a decent extent the amount of good you get out of it is largely up to the student. We can’t just blame the institution; that’s easy to do. A good student moves beyond that towards focusing on his/her own acts of justice and doing what he or she can to receive great graces, for where sin abounds grace abounds all the more (see Romans 5: 20).

    That being said, I agree that what College we select and for what reasons (honestly) we select our colleges is important and must be done with deep care and concern by both the individual and his/her parents. But let it be known that practically any college you choose these days will probably have its share of negatives, be they social, financial, or both, and so new students need to be aware of this and come as one strengthened by the sacraments and mysteries we have received, ready to give witness to students AND FACULTY alike the Truth of Jesus Christ and ready then to leave and be responsible in giving back to others what is due to them.

  20. Marie M, in the comments above, mentions traveling to colleges on the Newman Guide list. As far as I know, the Cardinal Newman Society is the only group truly and honestly looking into Catholic identity at Catholic colleges. Anyone not familiar with the work of the Cardinal Newman Society should look them up. Besides publishing the guide book of authentically Catholic colleges, the society also regularly publishes abuses at colleges/universities that call themselves Catholic. You might be surprised by what the Cardinal Newman Society reports. If anyone has seen issues of concern at schools listed in the Newman Guide, let them know! Their guide exists to help families answer important questions about the living/education situation students will encounter at those schools.
    It is terrible that many colleges have become Catholic in name only, but what is worse is that Catholic families continue to send their children there anyway. Yes, perhaps an orthodox school is physically far from the family home, or smaller than the student thought he/she wanted, or has more spartan facilities than the “prestigous” colleges, etc. but aren’t those things worth the sacrifice?
    Please keep in mind that besides seeking out colleges where our students will be morally safe AND receive an actual education – as opposed to job training – we all need to make an effort to support the colleges that are truly Catholic. College tuition is expensive, but many authentically Catholic colleges are charging far less than it actually costs to educate a student. These schools cannot survive without concerned/involved benefactors.

  21. From a college student (me)

    I am reading everyone’s posts and I agree – I think that the factors of sending young adults/adolescents away to college, and pretty much thrown into an environment where immoral things are happening is bad for the young adult generation. I personally have started out at community college, and I am now doing Universities at Shady Grove to finish my bachelor’s in psych/bio for PA school. Thankfully, my schooling, even though having taken more time to do it, has been much cheaper than going away to school. I am also very thankful I have had my parents’ help with the costs – I work in the ER on days I am not in school and on breaks, but I used to do anywhere from 40 to 80 hours while in full time classes. I have realized that in order to stay in the medical field, I need an advanced degree of sorts to make a living. Techs don’t get paid very much at all for the cost of living, plus I want to advance my education in medicine and be able to do mission trips to third world countries.

    I do think that the cost of college these days is scandalous. And it’s not easy to get scholarships either, no matter how great a student you are. When you think about it, the cost of some of the more expensive colleges per year is equivalent to the cost of a nice car/truck or house payment. Plus, it can take many years to pay off student loans if that is the way you had to go to attend an expensive college.

    On morality, young students (17 to 18) starting out should do community college for a year or so, or even take a year or two off before going to college. Community colleges still have their problems, but students aren’t thrown into living on their own and being “free” right away. Taking time off before college lets young adults work, and mature before going into the college setting. I have found that being an older student (23) finishing up my bachelor’s has not only given me time to mature in my field, but has also made me a much better student. I have tried to help younger students and give them an experienced perspective on college and try to lead them to make good decisions. I also have the experience of the ER and what happens when immoral acts are done in college (drinking, injuries from drinking/drugs, etc), so I give younger students that perspective, as well (but only if I notice them talking about parties, drinking, etc.). Many do not know or understand the consequences of immoral actions.

    1. Yes, I think you’re right on all counts. I was a commuter college student and found that more helpful to my moral life. The cost of the local college was also more affordable..

  22. I have some experience with both college environments and i have come to the conclusion that it is really up to the student as an individual to follow the right path. It may be harder in a university than a moralistic college but at some point we need to let our kids make choices on their own. we can not hold their hands forever. And sometimes the more rules a person has imposed on them the more likely they are to want to break them. This ultimately rests on the students’ shoulders. All we can do is pray that the lessons that we tried to instill in them took hold.

    1. Well, maybe there is a middle ground. It is one thing to send them out into the big old world and stop holding their hand. But it is another thing to drop them into a moral cesspool that too many campi are. In the “real world” there isn’t nearly the kind of obnoxious and imprudent behavior tolerated on most campuses. Colleges aren’t real life at all. It may be true that “it ultimately rests on the student’s shoulders” but it shouldn’t have to. Younger people deserve guidance and to have proper boundaries modeled for them. Mentoring doesn’t stop at 18. Frankly, some of the riskiest years are 18-25 where guidance and good example are needed most

  23. Also important though, if a student is considering non-Catholic universities (because of price or location, perhaps), to look at a university’s Newman Center or university parish. St. Mary’s at Texas A&M, for example, is flourishing despite being at a public university. While a student may hear questionable things in the classroom, it allows for students to meet other orthodox students while not confining themselves to only knowing Catholics. College is a great time for students who are interested in the Catholicism to learn more, but if all the great Catholics are only at Catholic universities, they won’t have peers to go to! I went to a private but non-Catholic school and the Newman Center was orthodox and provided a great inner circle of friends while still allowing us to be friends with non-Catholics as well, with some conversions thrown in there along the way!

  24. As a recent college graduate I have to say that by the time a person gets to college they ARE adults. Do they need support? Sure they do, but they also hopefully have had parents that raised them well and the love and knowledge of God in their hearts. At my secular college I lived in co-ed dorms/houses all 4 years and nothing immoral came of it. No one can force any student into a rooming situation they are not comfortable with. Treating college students like children is not the answer – they will only rebel even more. Instead, as hard as it may be, do trust them and treat them like adults. This is especially true for those in the Church – friends at a Newman center CAN & DO make a world of difference. All people must eventually learn to go out into a secular world and be the salt and light – that’s the mission Jesus entrusted to His followers. What better time to figure out how to lead by Christian example than during the college years?

    1. Well, maybe there’s a middle ground between “treating college students like children” as you say (which I don’t think is advocated here) and “treat them like adults.” For it remains true that 18-22 year olds have most adult privileges but are also, as a group, prone to many destructive behaviors. It is a simple statistical fact that college students are heavy drinkers, use drugs in large abundance and are promiscuous. There is a demonstrable tendency for young adults to be highly imprudent as a group. It is simply wrong to tolerate or promote irresponsible and sinful behavior patterns. 18-22 year olds are emerging from teenager years and becoming adults but they, as a group, have vestiges of both categories. Simply saying they “ARE” adults does not make this the case. I would say more, they are in passage to adulthood.

      As for me, I remember being in college and can assure I was not really an adult yet. It took a lot more than being 18.

  25. Thank you for this article. My twins are now awaiting college acceptances. I am mortified to realize even the Catholic school dorms are not kept separated.

    1. SOme actually are sperated. It varies, school to school. As I recall Notre Dame has seperate buildings as does CUA. I am sure the newer ones like Christendom and Ave Maria, St. Thomas etc. also maintain prudent separations.

  26. I’m in high school and I would love to go to Villanova or Catholic University, but the reality is it would cost twice as much the money and I could never afford it.

  27. Given what I’ve been reading, I think I’ll have my daughter (now a 4th-grader) take online courses from home!!!

  28. My children have all attended Franciscan University of Steubenville. What a joyful place! It truly nurtured their souls and their faith. Mine too. Such a dramatic contrast to the large secular state university I attended. I encourage parents who are interested to take their children to visit, to apply, and to at least check out the feasibility of attending.

  29. You are full term at 37 weeks. However even a month or more early not technically a preemie if over 5 lbs. The baby’s lungs are the last to develop so the main thing is if they are able to function on their own. IF not they will keep the baby in the hospital on oxygen and incubator most likely.

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