Epigraph Essay

Sarah Wicks

            Looking at the epigraph for the syllabus, it brought up many questions about adulthood and childhood and whether as college students we have reached adulthood or if we are still considered children. The epigraph is part of a class book called “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler, it goes “If we’re not your animals, if these are adult things, accept the risk. There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner.”. In class, we discussed how this quote can pertain to us as college students and someone brought up the fact that in college we are not quite adults and yet we are not considered children. We lay in a limbo of adulthood. College for many people is the first time that they are experiencing independence yet, we still are forced to maintain within a set of rules and guidelines that are imposed on us and many of us are still reliant on our parents for things such as money. We also discussed the fact that there are many stages of adulthood and we experience adulthood in stages. For example, you may start driving at sixteen however you cannot vote till you are eighteen and are not permitted to drink until you turn twenty-one.

            Another way to look at the epigraph is through the syllabus itself. For example, the quote discusses taking risks and, later in the semester there is a collaborative essay and through that, we are taking a risk in others in order to hold up the group, so all the work does not fall into the lap of one person.  This risk can also be seen in taking classes with a professor that you do not know, this is due to the fact that you do not know how hard the class may be and how difficult the teacher may grade you on work that you hand in. Within taking these risks you are exposing yourself to failure both as a group on the collaborative essay or as a student taking a class with a professor that may teach at a level that you are not ready to take.

            There are also risks in things like college, as discussed before many students fall in a limbo where many people do not consider college students as full adults even though through the eyes of the law we are considered as adults. This can be seen through the many privacy laws that are enacted when you become an adult. Laws like FERPA and HIPAA are two laws that help protect the privacy of students from parents. FERPA, for example, protects students from having their grades told to their families. This law was enacted in 1974 and is a way for students to gain greater independence from their parents. HIPPA is another law that grants students eighteen and older away to gain greater independence. This law is a way to assure that a person’s health records remain private. Without express consent from a person, hospitals and doctors may not disclose health records to any person. This is also protected with doctor-patient confidentiality. Through these law students are able to develop into adults. However, even though through the eyes of the law, students are full-fledged adults for many parents they still view their children as children.

            For many years colleges acted In Loco Parentis, this is Latin for “In place of parents” This was a way for colleges to have greater control of their students and was also a way for parents to be assured that their children are safe. In Loco Parentis took many forms. For example, curfews were often placed on young women attending colleges but, a curfew would not be placed on the male students. They may also expel female students for not acting “morally right” However through a series of law changes as well as the case of Dixon v. Alabama (1961) which landed in the Supreme Court has ended In Loco Parentis in colleges and universities.  

            Another way that parents may not see many college students as adults is the fact that many students are still dependent on their parents in one way or another. This could be financially by either paying their college tuition or cosigning a contract to take out a loan. This could also be seen in emotional support; many students still call their parents or visit them when they are able to. Through this dependence, many parents are unable to see their children as adults and still hold onto the idea of them not as the people that they are becoming but, rather as the people that they were. They may also not view them as adults because of the fact that many students have not finished the preset stages of adulthood. As stated before, there is a process of adulthood starting at sixteen and ending at twenty-one. At twenty one you are legally allowed to drink alcohol and is seen as the last phase of becoming an adult by many people as well as many scientists who state that your cerebral cortex or the part of your brain that makes rational decisions is not fully developed until the age of twenty-one.

            In conclusion, although many students may be seen as adults in many ways many are still considered children. Because of the fact that adulthood is seen by many to not have started until age twenty-one, there are also many laws that show that students that are in college are seen as adults and therefore should be treated with the same privacy and protection as an adult.

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