The Years of Decay

Modern University or Citadel of Nonsense


Allow me to paint for you, dear reader, a picture: A middle-aged women.  Spindly limbed, pot-bellied, and lean-lipped with thinning, wispy hair dyed a different color every other week.  No discernible jaw line or chin, slouching narrow shoulders, a permanent frown.  Folded down wool socks crammed into ill-fitting sandals underneath a mismatched attempt at bohemian attire gone horribly awry.


She says, “What’s that book about?”

“The decline of academia,” I answer.

She scowls, pouts, and replies, “Well, I’m a college professor…”

Bear with me as I try not to laugh then explain, “It touches on the unnecessary scholarship pushed by a lot of institutions these days.”

Her face scrunches and contorts as she spits out, “There’s no such thing as unnecessary scholarship.”


At this point, I’m no longer trying not to laugh. Standing in front of a computer, I silently but with a smirk type in “ridiculous academic research” and 6,860,000 results pop up immediately.  I walk away.  Academics have been deliberately dumbing down society for decades now and this professor is just another victim trained to perpetuate the system.  So self-assured in her intellect, it might crush her to realize that grading freshmen composition papers at a state school known more for its alcoholism than its academics is not impressive.  No, adjunct professor of formulaic prose, you are not impressive in the least.

And the Ivory Tower is no longer imposing, not when countless hours and dollars are spent analyzing the color of benches in a particular shopping mall, which research is then discussed ad nauseam and with all seriousness. This is mental masturbation, nothing  more.  What about this or that pop stars choice of attire?  Perhaps her sequined nipples represent something hidden deep in society’s underbelly?  Let’s apply for a grant to get to the bottom of this!  Russell Jacoby said it best,


“The problem is not the determination to take popular culture seriously…rather it is the failure to say anything illuminating.”[1]


 Sadly, illumination is no longer the focus of most academics for that would cause the tenure-tracked intellectual to stand out whereas the goal in today’s universities is to fit in, tow the line, and never – ever – strive to stand taller than the other professor poppies by publishing anything that might shake the foundations of that crumbling Ivory Tower, so near to collapse.







[1] Jacoby, Russell. The End of Utopia. New York, NY:  Basic Books, 1999, p. 81.

Rachel Summers