Saturday, December 31, 2016

From the Archives: Beloit College identifies political touchstones for 2012’s college freshmen

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on August 21, 2012. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016. I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Beloit College identifies political touchstones for 2012’s college freshmen

Beloit College – not far from presumptive GOP vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s hometown of Janesville – has released its latest “Mindset List” of cultural touchstones that are lost on the incoming college class this year, whose members intend to graduate in 2016.

The list includes pop-culture references – for instance, number 10, “On TV and in films, the ditzy dumb blonde female generally has been replaced by a couple of Dumb and Dumber males” – and sports references, such as number 19, “The Green Bay Packers have always celebrated with the Lambeau Leap.”

Daily life

The list also features items and activities from daily life that have changed since 1994, the year most freshman college students of 2012 were born.

Take number 9: “They have never seen an airplane ‘ticket.’” Or number 30: “There have always been blue M&Ms, but no tan ones.”

The 2012 Mindset List also contains several political notes that demonstrate how things have changed – or not – in the past 18 years.

Statesmen and -women

There’s number 8: “Bill Clinton is a senior statesman of whose presidency they have little knowledge.”

Or number 12: “For most of their lives, maintaining relations between the U.S. and the rest of the world has been a woman’s job in the State Department.”

Some references might seem obscure, like number 24: “White House security has never felt it necessary to wear rubber gloves when gay groups have visited.”

In the category of “the more things change, the more they remain the same,” Beloit College offers number 32: “Newt Gingrich has always been a key figure in politics, trying to change the way America thinks about everything.”

And, a thought that may be shared among many of there elders, there is number 66: “They have no recollection of when Arianna Huffington was a conservative.”

The introduction to this year’s list notes that “each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List, providing a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. The creation of Beloit’s former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief and Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride, authors of The Mindset Lists of American History: From Typewriters to Text Messages, What Ten Generations of Americans Think Is Normal (John Wiley and Sons), it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references. It quickly became an internationally monitored catalog of the changing worldview of each new college generation.”

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