Student apathy, alienation just more visible to society

Assoc. Collegiate Press

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on Wednesday, January 8, 1969.

Today’s alienated and apathetic students, although increasing in number, form the same two to three percent of the nation’s youth as in previous years, Dr. Paul T. King, director of the Testing and Counseling Service of the University of Missouri, said recently in an interview.

However this two to three percent is becoming more visible to society, he said. The study has not yet revealed the reasons for alienation or apathy.

The apathetic and alienated students can be classified in seven major categories based on results of national research on student values, King said. King outlined the seven categories as follows:

*The passive withdrawn student.

*The passive and uncommunicative student.

*The activist who is deeply committed.

*The student who attempts to gratify himself (this includes bead wearers and drug takers.)

*Supporters of the status quo, such as those who join the Junior Chamber of Commerce.

*The lonely student who sees the need for change but is afraid to act.

*The political game player and strategist.

From his research and reading, King has collected number of theories that attempt to explain student apathy and alienation. These theories are not necessarily King’s.

King also explained that a fast moving society causes a psychological numbing effect. The youth sees an environment that is difficult to control and withdraws from it. 

Parental permissiveness may be another reason behind alienation and apathy. Parents are afraid to exert real parental authority, King said.

A theory King does not agree with contends that the unrest in youth is a symptom of neuroticism. “The youth are acting out to their own morbidity,” he said.

Television is partly responsible for alienation, Dr. King added. After sitting in front of a TV for thousands of hours, “the youth cannot relate to individuals. He has little practice in personal relationships.”

Some psychologists feel there is really nothing wrong with the youth. He feels alienation is an effort, dictated by society’s need for reform, to recognize what is wrong.¬†

Lacking confidence in “the Establishment,” students are criticizing and opposing it. They view adults, the government and university administrators as representatives and perpetrators of this “established way of life,” King said.

King also says that students feel the system is so ironclad that it cannot be changed through ordinary means. So they believe in destroying the system, he said.

“There is a feeling of urgency about these ¬†students. The world is changing so fast that they fear the values their parents teach them are going to be outmoded. Because of this, they don’t take seriously the ideas of their parents,” King explained.

He also feels the so-called “generation gap” is really a communications gap. Parents listen, he says, but they don’t get the right meaning.