A statement, or paragraph, about “hook-up culture,” preferably with no statistics to back it up, but if you must, you must. General statements about what “students do today,” no individual campus or students referred to, are best. If you must specify, a lurid story will suffice.
A condemnation of all academic subjects that include the word “Studies” in the field name. Include the silliest-sounding title of a queer-studies workshop that you can find. Bonus points if the title includes something about people “of color” or Arabs. A discussion of how well-received this workshop was by the campus community is of course unnecessary. If you wish, however, you may mention this. If the event was well-attended, that’s evidence that higher education, across the board, is in shambles. If it was poorly attended, that’s evidence that students have heard the conservative message, while administrators fight the good fight for PC.
Lip service must be paid to the Great Books. It’s best to say as little about any particular books as possible. Revealing the specifics means a) having read them, and b) articulating why Aristotle matters more than Toni Morrison. This is not necessary, because for your audience this is already assumed. Neither you, the author, nor your audience need read either.
Kids today are dumber than ever before. No one will dispute this, it’s flattering to your 40-plus readership, so nothing is lost by tossing it in.
Keep the thesaurus handy, collect some random anecdotes with indifference to their accuracy, and jumble the order of the points a bit and permanent placement on the nation’s op-ed pages will be yours. I do think, however, that any effort in the genre worth its salt requires a minimum of three paragraphs of horrified whining if a performance of The Vagina Monologues has been held on campus in the preceding five years.
On the second-to-last point, I forgot to mention this at the time, but this reminds me that I would be interested to hear an actual argument in defense of Ross Douthat’s assertion that Dryden is an obviously greater and/or more important artist than Virginia Woolf. (Seems ridiculous to me, but I must admit it’s certainly never occurred to me to return to the former since I got through him in high school. Well, John Dryden, I mean — The Game certainly belongs on every college syllabus!) As it stands, I believe it’s what conservatives call “identity politics.”
…Kvetch is right to note in comments that the typical op-ed also requires “bitter tears over the scourging and crucifixion of St. Larry Summers, Martyr, by the army of vicious lesbofeminazis that controls Harvard.”