In the Western world, the university was created to be a utopian environment of learning separated off from the harshness and ignorance of the world outside.
At many of today’s universities, learning has taken a backseat, but the utopian ambitions remain, now mainly in the form of entertainment. For four to eight years, students can be treated to lavish activity centers, sporting events, and of course, the parties. As Caitlin Flanagan observed in her essay in this month’s Atlantic, “It helps to think of college [today] not as an institution of scholarly pursuit but as the all-inclusive resort that it has in recent years become.”
So it’s not surprising to hear that universities are thinking of extending their utopian offerings beyond the degree-pursuing years… by offering retirement housing.
“[The University of Minnesota] is considering a plan to build housing for alumni and make the campus a retirement destination for baby boomers. While the idea is in the early stages and there is no timeline when construction could begin, the project could give alumni a second chance to experience college life.”
A representative of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association said of the proposal:
“What a great opportunity to come back and enjoy university life as an empty-nester or as a retiree. [You can] not only can you take advantage of everything at the university but you can go to downtown Minneapolis, you can go to downtown St Paul, so you get all the great assets of the university as well as two fantastic downtowns. So we think that may [be] attractive to some alumni.”
Apparently, the University of Minnesota has already been beaten to the punch by some other schools, including Penn State, the University of Florida, and the University of Texas, which all have on-campus retirement communities.
Let’s hope the government doesn’t start subsidizing these, too.