Freshmen, Take History; Graduates, Take Jail

Steve Russell
17 min readJul 12, 2021
Water Protectors photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

Wherein I attempt to argue that three current events in particular are better understood if you understand the relevant history.

Is it sexist to address the incoming class as “freshmen?” The manifest clumsiness of “freshperson” might dispose of the question if you gave no thought to the term “co-ed,” which made sense only because higher education was thought to be a male pursuit.

Sit right over there, little lady. Just keep quiet and don’t touch anything. The guy next to you is training to fly the plane and your IQ has gotten you into a target-rich environment for husband-hunting. You will get what you want and so will the guys.

I retired as Associate Professor Emeritus from Indiana University, the second school where I was tenured. The first was the University of Texas at San Antonio, and I turned down the tenure offer to accept an untenured position at Indiana. Teaching was my second career, and I took it seriously enough that I offer it to explain why I was appalled to watch an anti-intellectual bonehead embarrass himself and the country for four years.

The president we just survived came with zero experience of public service and an undergraduate degree in business. (No, government does not run and cannot be run like a business.) Donald John Trump, who coined the term “The Donald” as a self-description, said that he was a graduate of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, a graduate school of excellent reputation. I confess I was taken in by how he described his undergraduate degree.

What grounds do we have to complain? According to the former president, we had a chief executive who we just re-elected but for stolen votes who:

Knows more about diplomacy than any career foreign service officer

Knows more about dealing with a pandemic than any medical doctor

Knows more about law than any sitting…



Steve Russell

Enrolled Cherokee, 9th grade dropout, retired judge, associate professor emeritus, and (so far) cancer survivor. Memoir: Lighting the Fire (Miniver Press 2020)