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Recently the Washington Post published an article detailing Georgetown sophomore Charley Cooper’s search for a personal assistant. According to the article, this personal assistant will be responsible for performing mundane, everyday tasks, including but not limited to “organizing his closet, dropping him off and picking him up from work, scheduling haircuts, putting gas in the car and taking it in for service, managing his electronic accounts and doing laundry.”

Apparently, Cooper is so busy being a full-time student, holding down a part-time job and dealing with an illness in the family that he is unable to find the time to perform these tasks himself. When I read about this posting, my initial thought was, “This is ridiculous. Who the hell is this guy?”

Several Georgetown students share my sentiments. Some were quoted in the Washington Post article as thinking that Cooper is “self-important,” “ridiculous” and “full of himself.” His posting has triggered a backlash among his fellow students that just see him as reinforcing the stereotype of wealthy college students.

Reading through this article, my thought was that Cooper just doesn’t get it. He doesn’t truly understand what is supposed to go into the college experience. By hiring a personal assistant, Cooper is trying to outsource one of the most fundamental aspects of college — learning about who you are.

“Being busy” is one way to look at it. I see it as testing your limits. College is supposed to be a time for self-discovery. After four years as an undergraduate, you should be able to walk away with a much deeper understanding of who you are and what you can and cannot do. This involves more than knowing how many neutrons are in the nucleus of a helium isotope or how to organize a 20-page research paper on feminist literature in the First World War.

To put it bluntly, college is supposed to teach you how to be a real person. Sure, there is a strong academic aspect to the experience, but you’re also supposed to be learning about life. This is where we truly understand what it means to live on our own.

For most of us, this is the first time we’re living without our parents or caregivers. With this comes a host of tasks that we didn’t have to deal with before — grocery shopping, laundry, taking care of ourselves when we get sick, eating right, exercising without a coach. How are we supposed to learn to do all of this if there is always someone else to take care of it for us?

Obviously, I do not speak for everyone. Perhaps Cooper is just preparing himself for a lifetime of outsourcing most of his day-to-day tasks. This is entirely possible, and if he has the means, more power to him.

But I’m willing to bet that most students do not have the means to hire personal assistants. On top of that, most of us will start out working with modest salaries after graduation. We should spend this time figuring out exactly who we are and what we can do, not what we can push off on to somebody else.

Hiring a personal assistant directly undermines what should be a time of self-exploration. If you feel that you are so busy that you literally need to outsource such basic tasks as doing your own laundry, you’ve either taken on way too much or you’re just not trying hard enough. Learning how to take care of yourself and how to balance your life, are important parts of college. Don’t push it off on someone else.

After all, if you can’t handle everyday, real-life tasks in college, how are you going to handle them in the real world? It’s got to hit you eventually.

Dennie Zastrow is a College senior from Wilson, N.Y. He is the chairman of the Lambda Alliance. His e-mail address is

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