Volume 96, Issue 9
Thursday September 12, 2002

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You mean Barbie didn't have a job?

By Chris Webden
Gazette Staff


Is Big Brother is watching you, or are you watching Big Brother?

While first-year students enter the university classroom, professors all across North America are home studying how they can relate to the younger generation.

For the fifth year, Ron Neif and Tom McBride, professors at Beloit College in Wisconsin, have compiled a list, called The Mindset List, of 50 defining cultural characteristics of this year's crop of first-year students.

"For these students, there is a different frame of reference and professors need to keep that in mind when speaking to their classes," Neif said.

Each year, when the list is released, Beloit receives hundreds of calls asking for a copy of the list.

"We have received calls from everybody ranging from other colleges to the military, from MTV to the Catholic Church," Neif said, adding the list is useful in all areas.

In the past, some students have been offended by the list, saying it made them look stupid or ignorant, he explained. According to Neif, this was never the intention and since then its authors have been very careful with their wording.

On Western's campus, students seemed to have mixed feelings about Neif and McBride's Mindset List.

"You can see that this is the mindset of our age," said Kathleen Archibald, a first-year social science student.

However, Tyler Snitynski, a first-year administrative and commercial studies student, disagreed with what the list had to say.

"[The list represents us] to a certain degree, but not really," he said.

Characteristics of first-year students described in the 2002 Mindset List (ie. things they believe or wouldn't understand):

Barbie has always had a job.

Cars have always had eye-level rear stop lights, CD players and air bags.

The "evil empire" has moved from Moscow to a setting in some distant galaxy.

"Big Brother" is merely a television show.

Cyberspace has always existed.

A "hair band" is some sort of fashion accessory.

The GM Saturn has always been on the road.

Fox has always been a television network of choice.

Women have always had tattoos.

Vanessa Williams and Madonna are aging singers.

George Foreman has always been a barbecue salesman.

The drug "ecstasy" has always been around.

Hip-hop and rap have always been popular musical forms.

They grew up in minivans.

Scientists have always recognized the impact of acid rain.

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2002 THE GAZETTE