There are a few paradoxes about Dartmouth culture that I have always found deeply troubling, chief among them the cognitive dissonance between the brilliance of my peers and their complete lack of intellectual curiosity,
That’s one of several sternly worded judgments Andrew Lohse, a guest columnist for The Dartmouth, bestows upon his university and classmates for their devotion to careers in financial services. This particular jaded verbal lashing of “the Wall Street Problem” was picked up by the New York Times’ Dealbook blog and has led to a commenting flurry on The Dartmouth’s site. Who knew so many people had opinions on the topic?
Lohse lays some of the blame on his classmates, and more on the “recruiting culture” at his college:
The whispered promise of recruiting stunts many undergraduates’ intellectual development at square one, commodifying their academic experience, papering over all other possible life paths or making them simply financially infeasible in contrast. It attempts to render insignificant the essential elements of a liberal arts education. Dartmouth is not a vocational school for investment bankers, nor should it be. We came to this school to probe big questions about why the world is the way it is — not to conform to a withering ideal of wealth and virtual power that we have been manufactured to hold dear.
Maybe Dartmouth is doing too good a job of explaining Why The World Is The Way It Is. It doesn’t take long for students to figure out that the easiest way to get ahead is to make a ton of money, and so they become bankers. But Lohse would rather his classmates “think about inequalities” and “[question] class-based systems of power and dominance.”
I can’t help but think Lohse has a future in consulting, an industry powered by the replication of successful business strategies. This is the third Ivy League daily newspaper column in less than a year that spouts invective at bankers, banks, and the colleges that cower in front of their demands, and all three have made significant splashes in this hypersensitive industry. But while one such columnist suggested incentivizing public service careers, and the other advocated banning banks from recruiting from campus, this one just seems really convinced that he knows better than you, and really intent on proving it:
Is this what it means to be ambitious in our culture? Should this be the goal of the valedictorians of Ivy League institutions? No matter how hard I try, I cannot think of more pathetic ambitions.