Tomorrow, yet another long-held tradition at the University of Mississippi will disappear just like Col. Reb and “Dixie.” Freshmen students at Ole Miss will no longer be taught the basic tenets of education that their predecessors were required to learn – thought, reasoning and ingenuity.
Instead, they will only be required to attend classes although most of them regard the word “required” the same way they apparently view stop signs, as a mere suggestion.
Yes, education as it has been known at Ole Miss for more than a century will cease to exist tomorrow as cold beer finally becomes legal in Oxford.
Ask almost any graduate of Ole Miss what they got out of their four years (or more) of college and they’ll probably reply with something like this: “Well, I got a degree in something useless, I can’t even remember what it was, met a lot of nice people, did a lot of partying and, oh, yeah, I learned how to cool a hot beer down to drinking temperature in less than five minutes. Took most of my freshman year but, hey, isn’t that part of a college education, learning how to solve problems?”
Alas, that aspect of learning will no longer be a part of the Ole Miss curriculum. Among its many national rankings, the school can no longer be counted on to be named each year as tops in the nation in turning out refrigeration experts.
While this will certainly be a sad day for science and engineering – and future students – recent graduates of Ole Miss who have been unable to find work can take comfort in the fact that there is sure to be a market for refrigeration service technicians in Oxford now that all the stores have had to install beer coolers.
But future generations of Rebels will no longer be able to enjoy one of the richest traditions of Ole Miss culture which was that, if you could figure out how to navigate the town’s roundabouts and cool a beer down in less than five minutes, you passed the entrance exam. No need to worry about SAT or ACT scores.
While some may scoff that a college education is about more than just learning how to cool down a beer, the same critical thinking is involved as, say, working out a physics problem. A student once told me how he solved the hot beer problem. He said he’d head to the beer aisle of the store first, grab his beer, put it into the cooler with the milk (hiding it behind the milk, of course, so no one else stole his idea or his beer), then go do his grocery shopping and grab the cold beer on the way out.
I’d say that student deserves a degree in something. Unfortunately, now the only critical thinking at Ole Miss will be choosing what color Nike shorts to wear to class today.
MARTY RUSSELL writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.