Stressed Students

Today’s Lesson for College Students: Lighten Up [RSS]

It was intended as a statement against the kind of perfectionism that drives some Bowdoin College students to spend two hours a day on the treadmill: plastered all over campus recently were photographs of naked undergraduate Bowdoin women — or at least their bodies, as the pictures had been shot from the neck down — in all their short, tall, thin, not-so-thin, fit and unfit, anonymous, unairbrushed glory.

Far from being shocked, Craig W. Bradley, dean of student affairs, said he supported the women’s group that came up with the poster campaign — anything to get students to stop worrying so much about body image, grades, careers.

Mr. Bradley, along with other college officials, has been telling students to get off the treadmill. Go for a walk, go surfing. Read a novel just for pleasure. Eat ice cream. Hang out with the knitting club. Find your passion.

Bowdoin’s efforts reflect the ever-increasing attention colleges across the country are giving to undergraduates’ personal growth and emotional well-being.

One wonders if the reaction would have been the same had it been fraternity boys posting the images.

Clearly, to the extent students focusing too much on their studies, physical fitness, and career prospects is a problem, it is one limited to the elite universities. During my several years as a college professor (and, for that matter, in my own career as a student) I don’t recall very many students at all who needed such prodding from the administration.

FILED UNDER: Education,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.