Blue Deviled – Does The Duke Porn Star Really Tell Us Much About College Costs?

The story had the perfect ingredients for an online firestorm – a student at Duke paying her way through college by performing in adult films.  College costs, parental anxiety, and sex. It was only kittens away from having the entire internet covered.  The coverage not surprisingly turned to the sexual aspects — fueled in no small part by the reaction of the some of the young woman’s classmates.  The gender issues are significant but that’s well trod ground – especially at Duke. The college cost issue is fresher. Did this student, “Lauren” (not her real name), have to turn to porn or was it a choice among several paths to a competitive college degree? And what’s the takeaway from all this for those concerned about college costs and access, if there is one at all?

RealClearEducation’s Emmeline Zhao talked with Lauren about that last week in an interview published this morning. It was the kind of interview I prefer, a person in their own words and unfiltered. Readers can draw their own conclusions.

My take: At its core this is a story of an eighteen year old still figuring things out, unfortunately now on the public stage with a story that is impossible to resist.  Lauren had scholarships to other schools but chose Duke instead. So, despite the outrageous cost of attending some colleges, in this instance Lauren made a choice.  That doesn’t mean there is not a problem with college costs, and Lauren’s account reinforces what a lousy job the country does signaling to students about their college and college financing choices (pdf). But her specific story seems more about someone drawn to the adult entertainment industry than it does about college costs.

But read the interview yourself and decide.

2 Responses to “Blue Deviled – Does The Duke Porn Star Really Tell Us Much About College Costs?”

  1. Nobody Special Says:

    The scars on her thighs (maybe they aren’t self-inflicted, I guess. . .) seem like a better indication of her motivation than the words in her interview.

  2. Joanna Says:

    Brilliant interview, and brilliant young woman. I think she’s figured things out pretty well. Lots of people put themselves through education (or pull themselves out of debt) through different forms of porn, stripping, selling sex, etc. In Lauren’s case, she’s picked one of the safer and more clearly legal part of the industry, and one that she’s enjoyed as a consumer in the past. Sounds FAR more enjoyable and less exploitative than flipping burgers, cutting grass, or looking after kids for minimum wage. Good for her! She’ll make a great women’s rights lawyer, fighting for marginalized and stigmatized women, and she’ll understand some of the issues they face. Interesting that the controversy is around her work, rather than around the behavior of her classmate who saw one of her films and instead of just enjoying it, chose to use it as a means to degrade her on campus. Where is his moral compass?

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