In a rather classic turn of events for me, I didn’t actually manage to get my senior retrospective in on time for the print version. So the only place you can see this article is online! Lucky you!
Anyways, I’ve wanted to write one of these things for years, since I was a freshman and watching other people graduate. And part of the reason why I wanted to write one of these is because so many people who graduated in the past that I respect immensely did as well. However, I’m not going into this process with any expectation that these words will completely change anyone’s Vassar experience. Most of the senior pieces are personal stories encouraging underclassmen to live life to the fullest, and while some are more effective than others, they still are primarily a platform for seniors to get one last look at their college careers and indulge their egos once more by describing what they’ve learned from it.
I’m going to try and do something different.
Instead, let’s talk about the Vassar community and how I think it can be changed. Like I said, I’m still not expecting this to turn around anyone’s life, but we need more discourse about this. So you can take these suggestions or you can leave them, I won’t be offended either way. You should also take what I’m saying with a grain of salt, since I am a relatively privileged member of this community. But I also know that Vassar has not always felt like home to me, and these suggestions could maybe make it feel more like a home to other people.
College is a unique place, in that the student body completely changes over the course of four short years. Which can be a good thing, it means that there is constantly an influx of new freshmen with new ideas and solutions. This is often underestimated, but having new people coming in is so important in helping the school grow and change. But this also means that there’s constantly seniors graduating and leaving, and the freshmen coming in need to be taught some things about Vassar as a school. Which makes it hard to pass down any sort of institutional knowledge. I’d love to see a community more focused on teaching each other and growing together.
I would also love to see an environment where we are more focused on doing the right thing, as opposed to doing the most visible thing. Now the two can seem similar, but it’s the difference between making a huge fuss over a friend who is hurting and just asking how you can help. We’re college students, we want to do the right thing and get the credit for it. We want to stick it on our resumes that we helped others and made a difference. But what we’re forgetting is that you can’t quantify the help you give and that half the time the best way you can help is to get someone else more qualified. So much of this school is focused on doing things that look good instead of doing things that actually help. (Please see the Bridge Building, that thing doesn’t even have a handicap button on it.)
In general, I’d love to see a school that is more focused on helping each other. The period of time where I felt the greatest sense of community was actually just after Trump was elected President of the United States. Why do we need a tragedy in order to come together like that? Why can’t we help each other in times of happiness as well?
So those are my suggestions. Again, you can take or leave them, but we are about to go on a summer break for a few months. And even if you are staying on campus, you will be here but you won’t have the same experience, not really (trust me I know, I stayed on campus for a summer after my freshman year). This is a great time to sit down and really think about what you want this school to be like and how you want to contribute to it. In particular, think about the current problems and how you yourself contribute to them. Because we all have contributed in some way, whether it’s by not educating ourselves on issues, not advocating hard enough for these issues, or not advocating in the right way. We can all make some change to improve this school in the future.
I hope I’m around to see what good you will produce.