First off: Fly, Eagles, fly. I’m not a diehard football fan generally, but I grew up in an Eagles household, and my earliest Philadelphia memories are going to their games with my dad, so it’s certainly satisfying to see them earn this Super Bowl win.
Like thousands of others, I took to the streets to revel after the game. My housemates took off so quickly I didn’t have time to change, so I went out dressed in a tank top, shorts, and flip-flops. It’s a Philadelphia miracle that I made it through the night uninjured.
But now, there’s the next stage of the celebration to look forward to: the parade. The parade will undoubtedly be a coming-together for Philadelphians and fans of every sort, and I’m glad that Penn has suspended operations so that students will get to be part of this historic event. That said, I don’t think the suspension of university operations was absolutely necessary, and the fervency with which I’ve seen many advocate for a closure is emblematic of an issue which has become particularly notable among young adults: the unwillingness to take ownership of and suffer for our choices.
A Daily Pennsylvanian editorial earlier this week declared “Let Penn be a part of Philadelphia” and summarized students’ concerns I saw echoed across social media and through the communal buzz of Locust: Without classes being canceled, we were being forced out of this important event. That is not the case. Rather than forcibly removing our ability to participate, what Penn would be doing in not canceling classes is making our decision slightly more difficult and requiring students to make a tough call.
Just to be clear: The editorial also pointed out concerns for faculty and staff, and I think these were largely well-founded, so I’m looking to respond to students’ perspectives about their own situations.
I’m glad my decision to attend the parade won’t be hampered by a class absence, but if the parade were as important to me as it seems to be to some people, I’d happily chug a couple green beers, rub some dirt on that shiny attendance record, and go make memories.
That decision may come at a price — maybe I’ll fall slightly behind and need to make up work or borrow notes; maybe if I tell my professor, they’ll mark me absent and not give me a 100 percent attendance and participation score. That professor is probably a Patriots fan. But sometimes the freedom to be adults and engage in a bit of unstructured self-determination requires that we give something up. Not every decision in life will be an easy one. We won’t always have an Amy Gutmann to cancel the things we’d miss out on in the pursuit of our desires.
If we can only make decisions when others have made certain that there are no consequences to them, we probably shouldn’t be making our own decisions.
The Change.org petition that was signed by 4,500 people and asserted that Penn should suspend operations reminds me of last semester’s petition to “let students live,” in which 2,500 signed a petition for “the ability to have a social life” in response to increased event observation. While I strongly disagreed with the crackdown on open events and agree with many assessments of probable negative outcomes — such as pushing events further off campus or restricting events to wealthier students— I was surprised to see how completely the open party scene I had come to know shut down.
If these parties and social events were as important as the petition suggested, we should have been cranking the speakers back up and keeping the parties going as soon as the event observers left the house. The petition sounded like many students’ line in the sand — going as far as to say that competitiveness culture and mental health at Penn were tied into the accessibility of parties—and we simply collapsed at the first opposition because Penn “wasn’t letting us live” by threatening to close parties quicker.
In the end, it seems like we’re faced with two scenarios: Either these opportunities really aren’t all we’re cracking them up to be — in which case we should ask ourselves whether we’re just looking for another day off and using the parade as a scapegoat — or these are truly formative experiences and we must ask ourselves why we’re so reluctant to double down and accept the consequences of decisions we’re confident in.
DYLAN REIM is a College senior from Princeton, N.J. studying philosophy and political science. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. "DReim Journal" usually appears every other Thursday.
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