Now that we are past the first hurdle in the school year, many students on campus are getting more involved with activities outside of the classroom. You may have even attended the Involvement Fair this past Tuesday. As I’m sure that you’ve guessed so far, Gustavus offers many organizations on campus that promote social justice, helping others, and making our community overall a better place for us all to live and work.
And with this, I have some advice for first-years joining these types of groups, and possibly even upperclassmen who are new to organizations that aim to change campus. You’ll begin to hear the mysterious and confusing phrase “The Administration.”
The Administration is the source of all problems for some clubs, and the source of all stresses and pains and complaints that a student ever seems to experience while on campus. If you are looking for someone to blame, The Administration is there happily waiting for you to pick them apart. But don’t let these Administration blamers spoil your view of Gustavus.
Coming in as a first-year last year, I arrived starry eyed, believing every student on campus loved Gustavus just as much as I did. With a year now under my belt, I understand that every college and university has some issues or problems that put students at a disadvantage. Could Gustavus improve on some things? Absolutely. Is it the student’s job to point out these issues and aim to make the campus more accepting and helpful? One hundred percent.
And many students do take this mature route to improve campus. Take the work that the Environmental Action Committee (EAC) did last year with Groundswell Day and will continue to do this year. They went directly to the people they knew could help them make a difference on campus and spoke up about the issues that are super important not only at Gustavus, but to the whole world.
However, far too many other students and organizations do not take this mature route. Instead, they sit and complain about things they don’t like about campus, blaming the big scary monster of The Administration. What I want to know is who in the world they are referring to when they refer to Gustavus “Administration,” because I certainly have no idea. What’s even worse is that before they have a chance to find out what will happen, they immediately assume that things will go badly because “it’s Gustavus.”
What people don’t seem to understand is that, as I discussed last week, everyone is human. A truly revolutionary idea, I know. Our wonderful faculty and staff here at Gustavus work so hard everyday to make every student experience here the best it can possibly be. Imagine if it were your job to listen to students stresses, problems, complaints, as well as trying to make the campus better as a whole? It’s a whole lot harder than it sounds.
So, instead of sitting around and complaining that no one on campus cares enough to solve the issue you care about, think about how it would feel to say the things you are thinking to an actual member of “The Administration.” And then don’t say it. Instead, use a direct resource to try to get started on solving the issue.
According to the Gustie Guide’s section on student protest, you are allowed to make a petition, host an event, stage a protest (which is within your rights as a college student), or set up a meeting with someone who can hear what you have to say.
I encourage all of you to think about what you already appreciate about this college that you chose to attend and be grateful for the opportunity you have to be here. If you are unhappy about something here on campus, do something about it. But do it respectfully, in a mature way, and with others in mind.
All it takes to get the ball rolling on meaningful change in our community is one step. As students, it is especially our job to help create and uphold the welcoming, diverse, and equality-driven spirit of Gustavus. It isn’t fair to make others shoulder the full responsibility of making our home what it is. We have the power to change what is around us for the better.