Arrogance on campus: mo’ money, mo’ problems

Jesus Vasquez

A few weeks ago, a ghastly error was committed by the upper echelons of our college administration, as the library was prematurely shut down on the night of October 9. A number of students felt betrayed and disrespected, certainly a reasonable response, given that it was unannounced, and in the midst of the rash of exams and papers immediately prior to the four-day break. Yet, I couldn’t help but see that there was a brief listserv flame war (which was probably extinguished by the break), between two parties regarding the appropriateness of student reaction to the shutting down of the library.

Let me summarize the e-mail exchange briefly –– one party expressed their frustration of the library closing (perhaps a bit overdramatically), and expressed a desire to see someone pay the consequences for their mistake; the other party insisted that such a consequence was too extreme, that the first party was complaining too much, further solidifying Whitman’s reputation as a bunch of snobs. Summarily, the first party apologized both publicly and privately, sending their e-mail to both the listserv and other party.

Good –– that situation is resolved. Yet, it brings to mind a greater issue. How snobby is Whitman? At times, I’m disgusted with the amount of self-entitlement and self-righteousness (and not the good kind) that can be found on campus. At times, I overhear statements that make me cringe, and witness actions that make me ashamed to be a Whittie.

The most irritating comments, for sure, have got to be the bashing of Bon Appetit. Sure, the meal plans can be expensive, and some of their policies may seem utterly ridiculous to the average student, but, if you investigate, they are struggling to turn a profit. Yet, most students don’t complain about the cost on a regular basis –– what they DO complain about is the quality of the food.

Maybe it’s my working class background but, personally, I get a little irritated when people constantly harp on Bon Appetit’s cooking. To be truthful, there are those instances when nothing in the dining hall looks appealing, and, I have to resort to cereal or some other substitute for dinner. But, that doesn’t depreciate the fact that they’re making a valiant attempt to cook for us, available from 7 a.m. –– 9 p.m. weekdays (until 2 a.m., if you count the library café). There are multiple opportunities to obtain three finely cooked meals a day, with a wide range of salad, beverage, dessert and snack options, to fit whatever dietary needs one has, and yet, people still complain about the quality of the food?

Pure lunacy.

Among the other pompous offenses is “pretentious despair,” which I described in my past article regarding liberal bias on the campus. In such a case, the party expresses a great concern for the ‘ignorant, misguided’ part of America (usually implied to be conservative, in this case). To be sure, there are still many ignorant people in this nation, on both the left and the right –– there are those who STILL think Barack Obama is an Arab (and are fearful due to this falsehood), and there are those who can’t get beyond Sarah Palin’s accent. Regardless, in terms of this campus, we must get beyond this ‘right-hating,’ this aversion to conservatism (especially when the ‘other side’ is drastically misrepresented). This only inhibits our ability to make connections with the greater Walla Walla community, which is, itself, a right-leaning community. In a town where some see us as obscene, gaudy liberals, we only stand to fan the flames of misunderstanding by perpetuating it on our part.

Coming from a family that falls below the poverty line, I have been alienated at times, frightened by the wealth and arrogance contained on the campus. As a working-class student, I haven’t the means to buy $4 coffees daily, haven’t the audacity to complain about the shortfalls of fresh, plentiful food available for my consumption, nor have I the unabashed fortitude to not treasure what little I do have. As with past critical articles, I know that not ALL of Whitman feels this way, but, I know that some do. To those who may be guilty of some of these actions, I implore you to wonder about this: when was the last time you realized your great fortune (materially speaking)?