September 24th, 2019
Dear Bobcat parent and family members,
In my last message, I touched on the legal relationship between the university and students. I'm going to elaborate upon it more, but I want to lead into the topic with an FYI about the Involvement and Study Abroad Fair taking place tomorrow, Wednesday, September 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the SUB Ballrooms. The event is well advertised around campus.
Our Office of Student Engagement purposefully designs and hosts events like this because we understand that the path to becoming a citizen--locally or globally--is layered with encounters and introductions that can spark an interest that often lead to experiences where a student's commitment and resourcefulness can be inspired.
Along these lines of facilitating connections, MSU's Office of International Programs serves as a gateway to the world with many offerings for study abroad opportunities.
In Loco Parentis, Part II
Occasionally I'll have a parent email me and ask if I have any recommended reading to offer family members who are traveling the winding road of emerging adulthood with their student at MSU. While there are plenty references, these are the three I recommend most often:
Emerging adulthood: The winding road from the late teens through the twenties. Arnett, J. J. (2015).
Letting go: A parents' guide to understanding the college years. Coburn, K.L. & Treeger, M. L. (2009).
How to raise an adult. Lythcott-Haims, J. (2015).
Now, if you really want to dig deep into the modern and evolving student life issues facing colleges and universities, I recommend law professor Peter Lake's (1999) book, "The Rights and Responsibilities of the Modern University." Professor Lake's book was transformational in my thinking about the role universities can play facilitating adult development for undergraduate students. He explains the history of the legal relationship between traditional-aged undergraduate students and their college campus, dating back to the 17th-century during In Loco Parentis.
This legal landscape shifted in the 1960s when students "won" new freedoms and legal rights as adults at age 18. Later in the 20th-century, those new freedoms created new liabilities for higher education institutions when students started to drink to excess and participate in activities dangerous to themselves and others.
If you're yawning already and a dense book about the history of higher education case law would have you nodding off, you're in luck. I've found a nice summary of the history of In Loco Parentis published by the Chronicle of Higher Education.
This article does an excellent job showing how we work every day to balance our students' legal rights with their responsibilities to uphold university expectations and community standards. And, how at the end of the day, our job is to both support students with their development into adulthood, while challenging them to improve their communication and conflict resolution skills. Just as you encouraged your child to take risks and try new things when they were younger, we strive to support your student as they step out of their comfort zone to face new and different challenging situations.
I'll be offering a lecture this Friday at 4:00 p.m. in the Hager Auditorium of the Museum of the Rockies during Parent and Family Weekend that will capture and summarize the ways in which MSU does this work. If you're in town for the weekend, we'd love to have you in attendance.
Dean of Students
P.S. If you liked the CHE article on In Loco Parentis, you'll love this lighthearted read from Ted Gup. This is one of my favorites in demonstrating how college faculty can both support and challenge students in preparation for life beyond college.