As Ann Arbor becomes flooded with micromanaging parents and awkward-yet-eager freshman, I revel in the sight of familial dynamics. It’s like a reality TV show except I don’t need a Netflix account and only need to peer out my window to get a sense of the action. 

The opportunity that a summer break affords is a chance to scrutinize and think critically about many different issues — that is, before the stress comes when thinking about starting anew in September. Over the past few weeks, there has been a lot of misleading news concerning the state of education in Michigan. The nerves brought about by moving to school somehow trickles down to journalists who write about this topic. 

Going back to school was always a struggle for me. I went to summer camp for eight years growing up, and after not having to care about anything related to academics for two months, it was difficult to acclimate to tests, reading and writing essays. I still struggle with this dilemma. Since our summer break is nearly four months long, it’s easy to forget what being in school is like. 

Would the University of Michigan be better suited with a shorter summer break? In a recent article published in The Atlantic titled “Why School Still Starts After Labor Day in Michigan,” the case is made for a shorter summer break. Mind you, this article only addresses our state’s K-12 education system, but a similar case could be made for our universities. 

Most of my friends at other Big 10 colleges have already been in school for a few weeks, and sometimes I wonder if I’m missing out by not starting earlier. However, our long summer affords us so many opportunities that are not available during the school year. With just a short break, students would find it much harder to be able to pursue the internships, study abroad trips and research opportunities that many take advantage of. 

As students trickle back to school, national news organizations, such as The New York Times, devote substantial portions of their Sunday editions to higher education. More locally, the Detroit Free Press’s Mitch Albom wrote a column on going back to school. 

Albom, who says he was on a college campus last week, observed the madness of moving in. Unfortunately, for people from older generations, they are ticked off that we college students are too obsessed with intersectionality, technology and gender pronouns. Great stereotyping, right?

The point of Albom’s satirically tinged column was to note both the continuities and breaks between students from his college years and that of his offspring. But his diatribe falls into a trap of lambasting college millennials, and even may hurt the case for diversity at universities. 

Take a look at this bit: “After helping our son hang his flat screen and surround-sound speakers, we went for a walk around campus. We saw the 24-hour state-of-the-art exercise facility and the 24-hour Apple computer labs. He showed us the ‘safe spaces’ where no offensive words can be used, and the ‘healing spaces’ where you can go if you were accidentally exposed to an offensive sentence.” 

OK, maybe I’m just being overly sensitive to that paragraph. But that’s fulfilling an incorrect stereotype, no? 

While Albom’s misguided rant on politically correct culture was not ideal, I must award merit to a recent New York Times infographic on college enrollment and diversity. The study found that as affirmative action policies have been implemented at many colleges nationwide, Black and Hispanic enrollment still lag behind. 

Lack of diversity is acute at our university, but it’s not just limited to this campus. Increasing diversity is a boon to improving an educational experience — students are able to better understand a variety of viewpoints and meet individuals from places they otherwise would not encounter. 

The University is a unique case given our vast academic opportunities, which our long summer break aids in facilitating. We have the chance to go home or wherever else we are spending our summers to help spread this diverse array of viewpoints we experience. And, if anything, we should be expanding these opportunities rather than stifling them. We can only hope that our institution’s new initiatives to address this problem will be successful. 

It’s frustrating that journalists are not always up to speed with the types of issues college students currently face. This may be attributed to the fact that many have not been enrolled in a university in quite a while. But after not having to worry about school for an entire season, it is imperative that students acknowledge how and why stories take the angle they do when covering the places they learn. My advice to other students, however, is not to panic even though journalists appear to be out of touch with issues that students are facing — the same way you shouldn’t panic over realizing how much work you have to do after only your first day of class. 

Levi Teitel can be reached at lateitel@umich.edu.

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