Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Culture of complaint encourages us to seek meaningful changes on campus

Illustration: Alex Bailey

We at Whitman have it very, very good. Our studies are fascinating, our friends are many and varied, our faculty is ridiculously capable, and our campus is so beautiful that, were it a woman and not an abstractly defined area of land, I would make sweet love to it. We live the way life is meant to be lived, with no two days in a row the same.

And yet, we complain. When I had this idea, the first thing I thought of was, naturally, Bon Appétit. Whitties raise complaining about B.A. to the level of a sport: The napkins are too large, the dressing selection too small, the chefs are unable to conceive of a vegetarian dish that does not involve tofu. Compared to some other colleges and universities at which I’ve dined, we eat like kings; yet the aforementioned are legitimate concerns (minus perhaps the salad dressing).

Political correctness is, of course, an issue as well, with the “gender binary” in particular being a popular target of derision. While I consider myself a feminist, I feel like this is less of a problem than it is often made out to be––as I once heard it put, “sometimes ‘person who ranks a six on the man scale’ doesn’t cut it” when describing somebody. Certain other problems are far more pressing with regard to the progress of feminism. Yet this too is based on valid gender issues––society has a habit of leaning too far in the other direction, which leads to some individuals falling through the cracks.

The list goes on and on: People I spoke to described everything from a lack of decent coffee to a persistent clique mentality to an abundance of mysterious smells. As this very page proves, we Whitties are masters of finding fault. Why do we complain? Is it simply an ever-present flaw of our race that we will never be satisfied? I say just the opposite. The act of complaining is what makes us human. Furthermore, complaints about little things remain important in the face of larger issues.

Picture that some of the complaining I mentioned above may lead to necessary and permanent change. If we were wired to accept what we have and not to take issue, our upward mobility as a species would stagnate. Our contentedness with the small things would leave us too sated to take on anything larger. If we didn’t chafe at B.A.’s lack of vegetarian options, we’d be far less motivated to do something about the wastefully large napkins. If we weren’t set off by the use of gender-specific pronouns, it might never reach our consciousness that persistent labeling harms the LGBTQ community.

We have evolved to complain about everything (salad bars, odors) because things that matter (feminism, paper waste) get caught up in the net. Therefore, even at a paradise like Whitman, we must grouse, or we will not grow. So complain about whatever you want––except the culture of complaint––and make sure the energy of your rage is eventually directed somewhere it can be put to use.

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