I’m going to preface this Opinion piece by saying that in less than two weeks I will be a St. Mary’s College Graduate and thus am feeling quite nostalgic. With that being said I will begin my very last From The Chief’s Desk (not that I’ve done many this year).
I wrote earlier in the year about how even with the tuition increases and the fact that St. Mary’s has become one of the most expensive–if not the most expensive–public college in America, it is still a school worth attending. I wholeheartedly maintain my position, possibly something easy to do considering I will not continue to pay the ever increasing tuition. However, after four years I still believe that St. Mary’s is one hell of a place to live, grow, and get an education. My greatest fear as I leave is that the ever growing cost is going to kill the wonderful atmosphere that draws most of us to the college in the first place.
One of the aspects of St. Mary’s that makes it a great place to spend 4 years is the sense of community that permeates the entire campus. It seems that this year more than any has been one where the campus community has really banded together to share ideas and build an identity of community activism. Though St. Mary’s has always been a place of great community, this year our community has extended past the pursuit of knowledge and we have taken on more human issues.
The Living Wage Campaign, is a prime example of how the St. Mary’s Community has banned together to look out for one another. In previous years, students have shown that they are a forced to be reckoned with, but this year we were not only a force to be reckoned but a force of knowledge. The Living Wage Forums were a prime example of how St. Mary’s students and professors came together to protect an under-represented section of our community. The interesting aspects of the Forum were not just that a majority of the campus came out and participated in one way or another, but that the levels of activism were done tastefully and showed a very highly level of thought and education. They showed us that activism does not have to be something radical to be effective, sometimes the simple exchanging and discussion of ideas can make people in positions of authority stop and take notice.
This type of ideology is indicative of what St. Mary’s stands for, or at least what I like to believe it stands for. This campus is one where student activism initiatives are encouraged and where a lot of times we are acting on behalf of the community as a whole. What St. Mary’s teaches its students is that activism does not have to be radical, it does not have to alienate people who tend to hang on the fringes of activist situations. These students are able to get involved because there is a feeling of inclusion and civic minded education built into what we learn here.
I am sure that there are some students who disagree, who feel that at times the campus is protesting just to protest, and while I have not personally been in agreement with every bit of activism that has taken place in the last four years, I do believe that they have all generated an invaluable level of campus dialogue.
I am also sure that I there are parents or perspective parents that will read this and be worried that their children are being ingrained with some sort of radical dribble, or even parents that think because we are a college we have the luxury of being radically minded; however, what St. Mary’s teaches is not so much a sense of radical mindedness but a sense of civic responsibility. What sets us a part from other colleges is that we have classes like Professor David Kung’s Survey of Mathematics which focuses on Social Justice and that a number of our graduates go on to volunteer for programs like The Peace Corps.
After spending four years here I feel prepared to leave the college and make my mark in the world as a leader and activist. Perhaps I will not ever participate in protests or marches, but St. Mary’s has taught me that through knowledge and caring you can make a difference in m