Cool, Square, or Angry

William McKeefery

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on Tuesday, October 14, 1958.

Your present generation of college students has been called many things…the silent generation, the “beat” generation, and most recently, the generation of “angry young men.” There is an element of truth in each of these catchy names, but by no stretch of the imagination do they fully depict the main stream of your peers. My admiration is often stirred by the way in which your generation has moved toward leadership. It is not likely that school spirt will suddenly disappear down an unexpected chasm because of apathy. Every generation has said that – yet it bounces right back, as we have seen in the attractive campus displays at Homecoming, the yells from the stands and the courage of our team.

These are two reasons for this confidence in your generation. First your curiosity and its second cousin, discernment, are as keen as ever. It may turn itself to new areas such as hi-fi, pizza, sports cars, or the trapeze, but the sharpness is there and will make itself felt on more sobering themes soon enough. The step is indeed short between ROTC and jet responsibilities; chemistry lab and nuclear research, law pranks and the defense of a man’s life. The university endlessly nurtures the rise of adult concern through the waning years of adolescent frivolity.

There is second reason for this confidence in your generation. Your willingness to throw yourself into a cause in which you believe is unbounded. Now it is your nearest social group…the fraternity, sorority, independent group, school or class, or team. Tomorrow it is the family, the nation or even space. And this dedication is quickly tempered with the skill of adaption.

Combine discernment, dedication and adaptability in a gradually maturing complex of relationships and responsibilities…the sensitive, discerning mimic of the fraternity skit will soon become the keen and understanding teacher, statesman or jurist of the future…who then will start worrying over the fitness of his progeny.  -William McKeefery