Champions of academic freedom are scandalized, but I think this is a wonderful idea: making college students read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.”
The Guilfordian, Guilford College’s campus paper, reports on a grant to the college by one of Art (“I Am Not an Heir”) Pope’s groups:
“The ten-year grant for $500,000 that Guilford College accepted in 2009 included the stipulation that students in certain classes read Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel ‘Atlas Shrugged.’ The grant also stipulated that students who major in business and economics are to receive ‘free’ copies of the novel at the beginning of their junior year, as are certain students in the Principled Problem Solving program.”
The paper opines, “The college’s acceptance of the grant, and the faculty’s acquiescence to it, raise fundamental issues about who determines the curriculum, about faculty governance, about the nature of higher education these days, and about the kind of society we hope to be.”
Agreed. But look at it this way: forcing a college student to slog through the 4,000-page (it seems) turgid prose and predictable thinking of any Ayn Rand book is likely to lead to a lifetime of skepticism about people who tell you Ayn Rand is the most important intellectual influence on them.
So here’s my advice, students: Read “Atlas Shrugged.” Or try. Then read, maybe, I don’t know, “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair. Make up your own minds.