The “ME” generation has no perspective

Dr. Jonathan Sturm

Twice yearly on average, people — likely intoxicated students

— trespass on my property during the night. In trying to exit my

yard they destroy a portion of its fencing, probably because they

are too inebriated to notice the fence material staring them in the

face. Fortunately for these students I have yet to catch them. Last

weekend it happened again, and now I will have to replace a fence

post and 15 feet of fence that was in perfectly good shape before

they stumbled clumsily over my property and destroyed it.

Never once, let me repeat that, never once has

a student returned to apologize for damaging my private property,

or — heaven forbid — to volunteer to pay for the damage done.

Instead I am probably not far off in imagining drunken laughter

laced with expletives as they stagger off to the next party, with

the girls manifesting just as much bad judgment and poor behavior

as the boys.

To me this wanton destruction speaks volumes

to the lazy upbringing of many younger people in modern

times. The family emphasis has likely been upon

instant self-gratification for nearly 20 years by the time the

students arrive in Ames to scream and shout, burn rubber, litter

our lawns, trample our plants, break our fences and laugh it off

without conscience.

I write today to state publicly that if you

are one of the people who throws bottles or cans onto other

peoples’ property, or if you urinate or vomit on their lawns, or

disrupt the peace at 2 a.m., or break other people’s things, it is

neither cool nor funny. You should be ashamed of

yourselves. Your parents should be ashamed of you as

well. I certainly am ashamed of you. 

As students in Ames, you are visitors to a

town populated by residents who have lived and will live here far

longer than most of you ever will.  Your

manifestations of selfishness and poor upbringing make many of us

sorry we live here. Fifty years ago the behavior I am

describing would likely not happen, and on the rare occasions it

did, would have been followed by contrition from student and family

with 24 hours. However, as our American culture of narcissism has

evolved, “me-me-me” has replaced respect for others, with the

corollary that an attitude of respect for Ames’ long-time residents

has largely vanished from the student population. It

is truly disappointing.