Higher Ed Spotlight #3: Who is a college student?

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If a society insists upon years of human life as the cost of breaching its laws, upon what basis does it claim this prerogative? Is it not impossible to do so without contending that years of human life are valuable, because otherwise that cost would be unsuitable and insufficient retribution? Photo courtesy of @tomblackout on Unsplash.com.

Are they captive, or are they free? 

Is the worth of their life permanent and unalterable? Is the depth of that worth immeasurable, unfathomable even? 

Should the worth of their life be considered inseparable from the life itself? Should the worth of their life be considered inviolable and sacred? 

If so, is their mind not encompassed within the extent of that worth?  

And what of the mind? Is the mind not a private and unknown, fiercely personal and mysterious thing?  

Yet is the mind not also impressionable and powerful? 

If it is impressionable is it ever immune to bewilderment, disillusionment or distortion from the exactions of an unjust society? If it is powerful, is it not possible that it may uncover or fashion the grounds on which to defy laws, just and unjust, of the society it inhabits? 

If a society insists upon years of human life as the cost of breaching its laws, upon what basis does it claim this prerogative? Is it not impossible to do so without contending that years of human life are valuable, because otherwise that cost would be unsuitable and insufficient retribution?  

Then does the society not delegitimize its own contentions if its practices suggest a devaluation of the years of life that it takes? Would not even the smallest fraction of devaluation necessitate raising the cost to satisfy demands for retribution? 

Then in that taking does society not have an imperative to consider the worth of a life inseparable from that life itself, no matter what shape or form the life has taken? 

Does that society not have an imperative to consider the worth of a life inviolable and sacred, secure from the hazards of economics and history, secure even from the reverberations of the person’s own actions? 

Do we see the mind as being encompassed within the extent of that worth?  Do we see it as being impressionable and powerful? 

If it is powerful, can it not be both an object and instrument of transformation? Can it not ever be an impetus of the very life, progress and health which are presumably safeguarded by its body’s payment to society in portions of life? 

If it is impressionable can any sum total of its outpourings or workings ever be a preclusion to formulations of beauty? 

Does our society have any propensity for beauty in its growth? Is that not dependent on the contexts in which we do and do not assume irrevocability? Is it not dependent on the earnestness with which we construct, reform and dissolve institutions in the hopes of regeneration, rehabilitation and restoration of life? 

Is it not dependent on the degree of fear we have of developing a societal aesthetic of degenerative and incapacitative retribution?  

Is it not dependent on the beauty we are able to see and be ourselves? Is it not dependent on the ardency with which we create environments that cultivate a proclivity for beauty in others?  

Does that proclivity not originate in the mind, impressionable and powerful? 

Is higher education not one means by which this is achieved? Is the university not an institution for the development of the mind? Is it not a place where beauty and life are cultivated?  

What is the soul of a university? With what eyes does it look out upon the world? What does it see? Who is included in its line of sight, who stands before the horizon?  

Are they captive, or are they free? 

Why doesn’t UConn have a prison education program

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual writers in the opinion section do not reflect the views and opinions of The Daily Campus or other staff members. Only articles labeled “Editorial” are the official opinions of The Daily Campus.

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