This week, Harvard University announced that its libraries will be doing away with their traditional 50 cent-per-day late fee on overdue books.
Some might assume Harvard is terminating the fees because the school simply no longer needs the money. After all, the “private” university does receive billions in tax breaks every year.
No, finances had nothing to do with this policy change, which was first noticed by the vigilant folks over at The Harvard Crimson. The sole reason that this (once?) prestigious university is waiving the charge for overdue books is because this practice is just too stressful for students.
That bears repeating: Harvard University students, whom the school hails as the brightest young scholars our nation has to offer, simply cannot and should not have to deal with the stress of overdue book fees.
“We have witnessed first-hand the stress that overdue fines can cause for students,” Harvard administrator Steven Beardsley explained, even going so far as to declare that “Eliminating standard overdue fines…should help students focus on their scholarship, rather than worrying about renewing library books every 28 days in order to avoid fines.”
While Mr. Beardsley’s heart is certainly in the right place, he and other supporters of this policy are doing a great disservice to these students. College is meant to be stressful because life is stressful. What better place is there than a college campus to learn important life lessons like how to handle stress, and why it’s important to take responsibility for your actions?
If these principles are too intense for college students to handle while they are enshrouded in a safety net that provides for their every necessity, how will they ever cope once they’re on their own? Even though the Left has hijacked our universities to preach the message that life should be free of hurt feelings and hardship, we must remind ourselves this is not the intent of college.
Colleges were created to be a place that prepares young adults to succeed in the real world, but by and large they no longer do that, and if you need proof, just ask Harvard administrators to explain what abolishing library late fees does to form strong, independent young adults.
Actions like this teach students that they can resolve life’s problems not by accepting personal responsibility, but rather by expressing how victimized they feel.
When these students graduate should they expect a world in which they can skip a rent payment or two? After all, why wouldn’t their landlord understand how stressful rent payments can be?
Should students refuse to pay outstanding parking tickets because of how stress inducing the fines can be?
I wish my bank were more like a Harvard administrator. I could simply explain to them that my looming credit card payment was inducing unhealthy amounts of stress, and it would vanish.
It’s not just Harvard, though. Universities around the country have become more concerned with coddling than they are educating, as even a passing familiarity with the Leadership Institute’s CampusReform.org makes abundantly clear. Before taking any action that will impact students, administrators ought to ask themselves a few simple questions: “Does this prepare students for the real world?” and “Will this help students grow in maturity?”
Unfortunately, as evidenced by the actions of most universities, these questions are rarely, if ever, asked.
Perhaps, they’re just … too stressful!
Cabot Phillips is a CampusReform.org Contributor and Director of Campus Outreach at the Leadership Institute.