By Letter to the Editor
Submitted by Rebecca Wentworth ‘11, in response to the article “Where did the college campus go?” in the 10/14/10 issue of the Concordiensis
In response to the Article “Where did the college campus go?” I would like to refute the sweeping blanket statement concerning the seemingly patent apathy of the campus populations, but more specifically at Union.
Although our generation has oft been labeled as “a youth… mirror[ed by] doomed shallowness” (Adbusters), I beg to differ. Thomas Friedman, author of the seminal book “The World is Flat,” instead dubs us “the Quiet Americans… quietly pursuing their idealism” (The New York Times).
From a personal perspective, I take particular offense to the charge that as a university student I am not contributing towards “social action and civil protest” that elicits change. My protest is tangible, and does not weigh heavy with the intellectual elitism that is often associated with the instigators of social change.
I chose to be a mechanical engineer, despite being only “good” at math and science, because I wanted to create and design objects that can benefit underserved populations in improving their quality of life. It may be wonderful to “teach a man to fish” but without an engineered hook, this hypothetical man cannot retain his catch.
My senior thesis project (along with about 60% of my M.E. class) addresses a social and environmental issue that I hope to improve, involving creating post-consumer plastic bags into tarps for creating clean water sources, temporary shelter, agricultural and other applications.
I am involved in Engineers Without Borders, that is currently designing a clean water system for a village in Ethiopia. I am a Watson nominee who hopes to investigate innovative and entrepreneurial recycling schemes in developing nations. I chose to pursue social, economic and environmental change through my ACTIONS and not the borrowed rhetoric of a political masthead.
Other students have accomplished this, breaking the mold of your “disinterest[ed] and hedonis[tic]” campus population. Examples include U-Sustain, in conjunction with other environmental groups on campus, which have created programs such as the Ozone Café, URecycle, and have brought speakers such as Allison Cook to campus; this has earned us a spot as one of the top “green” campuses in the U.S. according to The Princeton Review.
Mike Clarke ‘11 has led a group of students to Ghana to help build a center for music and arts. The Minerva Fellows travel abroad and work on social entrepreneurship opportunities. Some of these projects involve faculty aid and direction; others do not. Even the hotbeds of the “euphoric and mindless” fraternities and sororities—none of which I am affiliated with—do fundraise towards national and local causes.
We as the millennial generation believe in change, but it is change we can DO. In job interviews we ask about their corporate social responsibility initiatives, we volunteer our free time, and we don’t cause a ruckus because we believe it’s all been said before.
Our reflectiveness is not marred by spouting redundant and worn aphorisms of social change, and so we seem to the more vocal and older generations to be uncaring about the situation. We are not crass individuals totally driven by alcohol-infused weekends: we care immensely.
Stop telling us that we are apathetic, because we can’t hear you. We were out building a house for Habitat for Humanity (even if hung-over) while you stood on a crumbling soapbox and shouted somebody else’s ideas to the unlistening air.
Rebecca Wentworth ‘11