The Seven Deadly Sins of Students

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In a presentation of generalizations, college professor Thomas H. Benton writes a one sided “sermon” about the everyday mistakes college students make in his article, “The Seven Deadly Sins of Students”. The analysis crawls with biased personal opinion and compares the errors made by undergraduates to the grand Christian teachings, against law: the seven deadly sins. That’s right–sloth, greed, wrath, lust, gluttony, envy, and pride all are talked about by Benton and act as topics for their own separate paragraphs all pertaining to college students and their behaviors in school.

Benton’s assessment on students speaks on the fact that often, kids choose the road that is easiest rather than the road which will benefit them in the long run (949). At first glance, such an analysis shows signs of being harsh, but after further investigation– it’s undoubtedly harsh. “The Seven Deadly Sins of Students” generalizes groups of students in a false way and provides no real facts while simultaneously alienating certain audiences and simplifying complex issues.

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Lust, while odly enough to be discussed by an adult Professor who is supposedly analyzing his own students, is used by Benton to pick apart students dress code in class. Benton says, “When did liberation from uniforms transform itself into the social demand that one prepare to be ogled in the classroom?”, suggesting a students choice of clothing says anything about their readiness or intentions for college but provides no further explanation as to why that is or what leads him to such a conclusion (p.950). Benton does not factually convince the reader of anything other than the fact that he obviously has the ability and the audacity to sexualize his students in a disgusting way and insinuate ones choice of clothing in the classroom is comparable to that of a sin. Benton fails to present statistical or factual information to support his claims and relies solely on his individual biases and personal experiences which prove difficult to take seriously as he is one professor with one opinion.

Benton’s decision to base his entire analysis on the seven deadly sins is a bold one. Bold in the sense that his audience is not and could not be entirely Christian. Non-Christian readers may not fully grasp the point Benton presents, as they may not fully understand the severity of a sin and the weight The Bible places on them. When Benton explains, “The sins that I see…are not great ones. Most of the time, they don’t seem like “sins” at all, even if one accepts the religious significance of the term. But they spring from thoughts and behaviors that, over time, become habits”, he admits the fact that his seven mistakes made by students do not compare necessarily to sins in severity, but that student errors may become common occurrence after a while (949). This concept may make sense to a Christian reader, but maybe not to an atheist or Muslim reader–Benton alienates these audiences and diminishes his reach further.

Before Benton even begins to over-preach about the seven deadly sins, he confidently defines his method of categorizing students as, “A helpful means of categorizing-and perhaps simplifying- the complicated and cumulative experience I am trying to describe”,stating he himself has simplified his findings (949). These findings of repeated behaviors demonstrated by students prove complex and not general. When the author presents them in such a black-and-white fashion, his audience and students end up mislead in thinking that human behavior is uncomplicated and can be neatly explained in a three-page article. Benton’s analysis of student behavior in, “The Seven Deadly Sins of Students” has little to do with students and reality but considerably more to do with what he personally finds offensive, as a result, does not persuade or convince effectively in the slightest.


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