One thing is certain: an estimated 70 percent of Modern Orthodox college students are enrolled in secular institutions of higher learning, and the impact of their experience there cannot be ignored. True, many of the parents and grandparents of current students also attended secular colleges, but it can be postulated that academic values and assumptions have changed since then, or that they are instilled far more explicitly than they were in the past, or both. On every campus today, incoming students are required to attend an intensive orientation program during which they are exposed to strongly formulated judgments about diversity, tolerance, and correct thinking. In this hothouse atmosphere, how is it possible for Orthodox students to argue in defense of the unequal treatment of women in the domain of religious observance? Can one conceivably emerge from a college experience today without having encountered attitudes toward sexual behavior at odds with traditional Orthodox beliefs?
Making it still harder to shelter today’s Modern Orthodox Jews is that they have strayed beyond the commuter colleges favored by an earlier generation. Once on campus, moreover, they are also less likely to shy away from courses on sexual roles, psychology, comparative religion—or modern biblical criticism—that will challenge views they absorbed during their day-school years and from their elders.
Jack Wertheimer, “Can Modern Orthodoxy Survive?”, Mosaic (August 2014) [http://mosaicmagazine.com/essay/2014/08/can-modern-orthodoxy-survive/]