Don't worry, we're counting the apples

The other day I was at the university dining hall, waiting at the cashier’s counter. Several students came through and swiped their cards. One student was carrying her hand bag and was told that she couldn’t come in with it. [I later found out that hand bags and back packs must be left in a non-secure area at the entrance. This seems to be the norm at many institutions of higher learnin’. ]

The young lady explained that she was carrying the necessary equipment to deal with her diabetes, such as insulin and juice packs . The cashier did not know what to do and the supervisor was called. The young lady was grilled again on the need for the offending bag in the dining hall and after a minute or two the supervisor allowed her to enter with it, with a clear warning not to take any food from the dining hall.

And so the student went for her mid-day meal. A student who pays about $7,000 in tuition, plus the cost of text books and other fees and then an additional $3,700 for the privilege of dining in an establishment where you are treated like a criminal. If I was a student with a $2,000 computer in my pack, I would not leave it unattended. But it seems they have little choice. Take it leave it. The thing is, some day they may leave it, especially in an age of instant communications and ubiquitous online university rankings.

This highlights the small-mindedness of institutional culture. We become obsessed with the fact that a student may sneak an apple out of the dining hall while oblivious to the enormous demographic and economic changes that universities are only beginning to face. No students, no dining hall, no apples to sneak out in hand bags. But don’t worry, the apples are safe.



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