With due respect and recognition to my excellent teachers at the University of Georgia, the best education I got — certainly the most sustained and character-forming part of my education — was in my membership in the Demosthenian Literary Society, the University’s oldest student organization. Something like a mix between a fraternity and a debate club. Tomorrow is its 209th anniverary; tonight is its All Night Meeting, which also serves as its alumni reunion. I wish I could be there. I made some of my oldest and dearest friends while “cultivat[ing] a correct mode of speaking and qualify[ing] through practice to express our views in an effective manner.”
I mention the Society less to reminisce than to think of the kinds of experiences non-residential college students miss, and the thrust towards online-delivery education. I don’t disapprove of online delivery, because without it some people — more and more I bet — won’t get a post-secondary education at all. So I’m suggesting real-life and social supplementation like my own well-loved society. Not such an odd idea: workingmen’s, mechanics’ and ladies’ literary societies once peppered the country and were unrelated to colleges. They could be free-standing or related to another organization, like a church. A thought.