Morgan Jones | Ending excuses
Nuggets of Wisdom | The fact that we’re in college is not a viable excuse for treating each other poorly
October 3, 2013, 5:51 pm · Updated October 3, 2013, 10:51 pm·
Nuggets of Wisdom
College can feel like we’re living in limbo — a paradox of being young professionals, yet lacking the resources or know-how to be real professionals. We can make decisions regarding relationships, sex and setting ourselves on a future life path, but the majority of us can’t make rent, buy food or buy a business suit without the help of our parents.
In this limbo between childhood and adulthood, the rules are unwritten, and we’re not always sure how to handle certain situations.
Somehow, this lack of knowing what is right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable, has taken hold in another realm: our day-to-day relationships with one another. Oftentimes, we don’t know how to treat each other.
This is commonly seen in seemingly insignificant or day-to-day instances. People forget how to wave on the Walk, gossip spreads as if in middle school and many lead others on and suddenly cut them off without a second thought. We run on a fast track and don’t always pause to consider how our actions affect others.
The idea that we’re “just in college” contributes to this and permeates campus. Much of what we do now will be stories for our kids later, of what we did when we were young, free and sheltered from real-world responsibility by the walls of the Quad. Those stories reflect the college us, not the real us, right?
No one wants to be “that guy” to his friends, either — the stickler, the one who makes an issue too serious and therefore reminds everyone how serious something is. For example, cheating in relationships? It’s not acceptable, not ever and not now, even though we’re “just in college.” Excuses like “It’s not that big of a deal,” or “What does it matter? It’s not like we’re getting married,” don’t fly. Or worse, they do.
How often do we call each other out for actions like that? From what I’ve seen and heard: rarely.
A prime — and particularly egregious — example occurred just last weekend. My friend experienced what many of us have experienced here at college: getting sick after a night of drinking. Unfortunately, she was sitting outside a freshman dorm, talking to some campus police. Small groups of students crowded around to watch or paused while entering and leaving the building. Some people pulled out their phones. Video and photo clips of her are now circulating the campus.
The incident with my friend goes beyond knowing how to speak nicely to someone and instead borders on abuse and bullying. Taking and spreading those videos and photos — objectifying her — is an ultimate form of disrespect.
This is a clear moment of right and wrong, reflecting not only the lessons we learned in kindergarten but also who we are as people. We should know better. There is no college bubble, or “just in college” excuse, that makes this okay.
And sadly enough, I haven’t heard the word “stop.” I’ve heard laughter. I think it’s laughter to hide the fact that we’re uncomfortable, or we’re thankful that those photos and those videos aren’t of us. But is that enough?
I’m not insinuating that everyone acts like or condones this, but this instance tells me that we need a wake-up call that we have to take responsibility for what we do. The fact that we can dismiss people, relationships and interactions we’re not proud of after four years doesn’t mean that those actions don’t define our character. The limbo can be tricky to navigate, but sometimes I think we forget that we’re actually dealing with people.
It’s not as if we don’t know how to speak out when we feel others are out of line. People who felt disrespected by New York Times writer Kate Taylor’s article, “Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too” were quick to speak out against Taylor. We stood up for our ways and pushed her out of our college land that she couldn’t — didn’t — understand. We were more vocal standing up to her than we are to each other.
The New York Times has yet to delve into overall peer respect in college, but I think that’s something we should be thankful for. We wouldn’t know how to respond, and I don’t know how we would defend ourselves.
Morgan Jones is a College senior from Colorado Springs, Co. Email her at email@example.com or send her a tweet @morganjo_. “Nuggets of Wisdom” appears other Fridayy.