Class of 2004 Mindset List
Adam L. Beberg
Thu, 23 Aug 2001 01:16:59 -0700 (PDT)
The yearly installment...
- Adam L. "Duncan" Beberg
Beloit, Wis. First-year studentsthose formerly know as freshmenare
descending on the campuses of America, loaded with cell phones, Palm Pilots,
CD burners and other essential items, hardly even imagined a short time ago.
They are prepared to dive into courses taught by wise and all-knowing
faculty who may be ten or 50 years their senior.
This years first-year students, members of the Class of 2004, were generally
born in 1982, the year the E.R.A went down to defeat, AIDS was designated a
top priority after it killed 164 people, the Weather Channel and CSPAN went
on the cable, and Phil Gramm became a Republican.
For several years, Beloit College has prepared a list of some of the things
that differentiate the frame of reference of entering students from that of
their teachers and mentors. After all, students of 18, for whom the fall of
the Berlin Wall was a topic of their parents conversation, know little of
the fears of the Cold War and nuclear annihilation. For their younger
teachers, Watergate is a distant memory; for their distinguished senior
professorsthe ones with a pile of vinyl LPs in the closet the Crash and the
Depression probably shaped their lives. Courses on American history now need
to include Vietnam and the sixties, not to mention the development of
According to Beloit Colleges Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride,
We assemble this list out of a genuine concern for our first-year students,
and as a reminder to the faculty of the gap that may exist between
generations. Education is the best remedy for the situation, but we start
out with varying points of reference and cultural touchstones.
Prof. McBride, Beloits Director of Institutional Research Richard Miller,
and Director of Public Affairs Ron Nief annually prepare The List from their
own not terribly serious research and from the contributions of faculty and
staff. It is then distributed to faculty just before the first week of
classes. Each year it is requested by hundreds of educators, clergy,
business people, and journalists who use it to demonstrate how quickly gaps
develop in the way we perceive and express ideas.
The 50-item Mindset of First-Year Students in the Class of 2004 list has
been shared with faculty and staff at the 154 year-old liberal arts college
as they welcome the new class.
1. Most students entering college this fall in the class of 2004, were born
2. Grace Kelly, Elvis Presley, Karen Carpenter, and the E.R.A. have always
3. Kurt Cobains death was the day the music died.
4. Somebody named George Bush has been on every national ticket, except one,
since they were born.
5. The Kennedy tragedy was a plane crash, not an assassination.
6. Huckleberry Finn has always been a banned book.
7. A 45 is a gun, not a record with a large hole in the center.
8. They have no clue what the Beach Boys were talking about when they sang
about a 409, and the Little Deuce Coupe.
9. They have probably never lost anything in shag carpeting.
10. MASH and The Muppet Show have always been in re-runs.
11. Punk Rock is an activist movement, not a musical form.
12. They have always bought telephones, rather than rent them from AT&T.
13. The year they were born, AIDS was found to have killed 164 people;
finding a cure for the new disease was designated a top priority for
14. We have always been able to reproduce DNA in the laboratory.
15. Wars begin and end quickly; peace-keeping missions go on forever.
16. There have always been ATM machines.
17. The President has always addressed the nation on the radio on Saturday.
18. We have always been able to receive television signals by direct
19. Cities have always been trying to ban the possession and sale of
20. Watergate is as relevant to their lives as the Teapot Dome scandal.
21. They have no idea that a presidential scandal once meant nothing more
than Ronald Reagan taking President Carters briefing book in Debategate.
22. They have never referred to Russia and China as the Reds.
23. Toyotas and Hondas have always been made in the United States.
24. There has always been a national holiday honoring Martin Luther King,
25. Three Mile Island is ancient history, and nuclear accidents happen in
26. Around-the-clock coverage of congress, public affairs, weather reports,
and rock videos have always been available on cable.
27. Senator Phil Gramm has always been a Republican.
28. Women sailors have always been stationed on U.S. Navy ships.
29. The year they were born, the New York Times announced that the boom in
video games, a fad, had come to an end.
30. Congress has been questioning computer intrusion into individuals
personal lives since they were born.
31. Bear Bryant has never coached at Alabama.
32. They have always been able to afford Calvin Klein.
33. Coors Beer has always been sold east of the Mississippi, eliminating the
need for Burt Reynolds to outrun the authorities in the Smokey and the
34. They were born the same year that Ebony and Ivory lived in perfect
35. The year they were born, Dustin Hoffman wore a dress and Julie Andrews
wore a tuxedo.
36. Elton John has only been heard on easy listening stations.
37. Woodstock is a bird or a reunion, not a cultural touchstone.
38. They have never heard a phone ring.
39. They never dressed up for a plane flight.
40. Hurricanes have always had mens and womens names.
41. Lawn darts have always been illegal.
42. Coming out parties celebrate more than debutantes.
43. They only know Madonna singing American Pie.
44. They neither know who Billy Joe was, nor wondered what he was doing on
the Talahatchee Bridge.
45. They never thought of Jane Fonda as Hanoi Jane, nor associated her with
any revolution other than the Fitness Revolution videotape they may have
found in the attic.
46. The Osmonds are talk show hosts.
47. They have never used a bottle of White Out.
48. If they vaguely remember the night the Berlin Wall fell, they are
probably not sure why it was up in the first place.
49. Spam and cookies are not necessarily foods.
50. They feel more danger from having sex and being in school, than from
possible nuclear war.