How Penn Just Ushered In the Apocalypse

The university used to require that all incoming freshmen read the same book. Now they're getting off with watching Citizen Kane. College sure ain't what it used to be.

We saw the writing (ha!) on the wall back in May, when Penn announced it would no longer be considering applicants’ scores on the essay portion of the SAT while pondering whom to admit to its hallowed halls. We winced a bit when we saw that the comments beneath a recent Daily Princetonian article on a student’s attempted suicide had devolved into a flame-throwing, name-calling brawl over whether “the person allegedly hanged themselves” was grammatically proper or not. We fell into a fever when we watched a privileged young Yalie scream at a professor to “SHUT UP!,” then fainted dead away when we read another Yale student’s defense of said screaming in the student newspaper, which featured the immortal line, “I don’t want to debate. I want to talk about my pain.” Really, we’d like to see that tattooed on every incoming Ivy League frosh.

But let’s talk about our pain, shall we — the pain that we uncool old folks experience when we observe college students, their lives made so much cushier than ours were at their age by the raft of technology at their disposal, the world-class fitness centers and gourmet food services on their campuses, their legion of counselors and advocates and enablers, their water parks and climbing walls and dorms like ritzy hotels (that sometimes really are ritzy hotels), with infinity pools and tanning rooms, whining about the multitude of ways in which they are oppressed. And now, here it is, the last straw: Penn has announced that instead of reading the same book, incoming freshpersons this fall will all watch the same movie, Citizen Kane. (Didn’t we warn about this years ago?) That’s right: Instead of cracking a book, the Ivy tenderfeet will allow their well-glazed eyeballs to glide across a screen for one hundred and 19 minutes — assuming they can squeeze the assignment in atop the nine hours they already spend staring at screens each day. Penn says it’s to further its “Year of Media” theme. We say it’s the end times.

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