Why American College Campuses Were Built to Get Students Out of Cities

Steve Diner:

In 1883, Charles F. Thwing, a minister with deep interest in higher education, published a study of American colleges. In his chapter 3, entitled “Morals,” he asserted that a significant number of city-bred college students “are immoral on their entering college” because the city environment has “for many of them been excellent preparatory schools for Sophomoric dissipation” and “even home influences . . . have failed to outweigh the evil attractions of the gambling table and its accessories.” In contrast, students from rural settings have been deeply elevated by “not only the purity of the student’s home but the associations of his country life.” Moreover, he explained, the higher rates of immorality among students in colleges “located in or near cities” reflected “the character and surroundings of the colleges.”