It's my last column for the semester, and even though you may be hearing more from me in the fall, I still feel the need to be sentimental. Sentimentality is a lost American art form, so I'd like to offer you these 700-ish words in hopes of eliciting an "aww" here and there. If I'm really lucky, maybe you'll turn to that stranger over there and give them a big kiss on the cheek, because that's what I'd like to give all of you: a big wet sloppy kiss. Now that I've ravished you, do permit a brief moment of un-topical anectodalism. Last fall I wrote up two sample essays for a DP columnist application. I stapled all my papers together, and took one last look at the requirements. This time I noticed something about "relevance to the campus community." I glanced back at my sample columns and shook my head: "Nu-uh. Penn is a campus of Abercrombied trust fund legacies who I couldn't possibly relate to on a mass-produced level." I tossed the papers into the recycling bin. My feelings hadn't really changed over winter break, but I was bored and feeling like an exhibitionist, so I actually sent in my application. Four months later, I'm telling you, this is mad fun. I started out thinking that only gay people would read my stuff, but in the first few weeks, it seemed like my core readership was made up of sorority girls and Christians -- the kinds of people with whom I thought I shared no common ground. When people started e-mailing me, and stopping me on the Walk, I realized how many different kinds of people really do inhabit these few square blocks. And the fact that so many people would actually sit down and read about the politics and/or love life of this paper's self-professed token gay columnist says nothing about me, and a lot about you. A lot about acceptance. And a lot about the willingness to diversify, in spite of a still-quite-lacking degree of diversity at this, our nation's first university. I'm honestly not telling you this to be self-congratulatory -- I'm telling you this because you should get yourself one of these here columns too. All y'all. I don't care how many of you there are, we should all just give up classes and spend every day reading about each other's lives. Few things are too personal to blabber about to 30,000 people (although my recent run-in with a Student Health doctor's rubber glove barely escaped my editor's computer) -- the personal is political. The very fact that you are here, at this institution, probably says volumes about the nature of our society. What is your gender? What is the color of your skin? What do you worship? How do you feel when you hear Britney Spears sing oh-so-passionately about Pepsi? As future college-degree-holders, these things matter. As college students under a Republican administration, your point of view matters. Whichever end of the political spectrum you inhabit, you are probably angry about something, and if you don't do something about it, write something about it, sing something about it, draw something about it, dance something about it, then you're wasting your tuition. The SATs never weeded out the "unworthy" kids. Neither did our lists of extracurricular activities. The college admissions process is ultimately skewed toward people who can afford to look like college material. Some of you may disagree with me, so let's just assume for a moment that many of us are here for reasons other than academic merit. Let's just assume this, for just a second. If this is the case, then I think we owe something to the people that have been excluded. We owe something to the kids who, no matter how hard they tried, could never have managed to get here. I'm not urging you to become activists (although that would be great) -- I'm urging you to talk, to write, to sing, to draw, to dance. To invigorate the flow of ideas in this all-too-complacent zip code. If we think enough, discuss enough, take our conclusions and act enough (which is the point of college in the first place), then things will get better. The world will get better. And we'll pay our debt to our less-privileged peers. And I know you can -- because you've been reading this. This past semester, you've read, you've thought and many of you have talked back. Newspapers are only one-way means of communication if you resist the urge to scream. So is college. So is the world. So scream, you crazy kids. Scream.Comments powered by Disqus
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