Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

We are not special: Let’s think about our actions

<on’t have to have been witness to the events of the last couple of weeks to comment on Carleton’s state of affairs. This is a small school; we hear stories and are complicit in the acts of others. It is therefore within our scope of interest to get a couple of things straight. At Carleton, we pride ourselves in being the best and the brightest, of upholding a certain standard of excellence. It is our first reaction, then, to turn horrifying acts into anomalous ones. Take for example the assault that occurred last weekend against one of our nicest security guards. Most of us would say that the “normal” Carleton student would never do something so appalling and I would love to agree. The issue is that I’m not so sure I understand what it means to be normal here. Rape, sexual assault, arson, destruction of property; all have occurred by the hands of students within the span of two weeks. If one evil student had committed all of these crimes, then we would be able to point fingers and absolve ourselves. We already tend to blame townies, the administration, and even certain sports teams. However, with the pure frequency that Carls have committed these terrible acts, freedom from blame is not an option.

What we seem to forget a lot of the time is that even in the Carleton bubble, a certain sense of reality exists. The school is still a microcosm of society, even if its demographics are severely skewed. In fact, I would say it makes things even more explosive. The less representative the student body is of the world that surrounds us, the more it sees itself as an alternate reality. On a Friday night at Carleton, the most basic human instincts are displayed because we know that by Sunday morning, we gain immunity by hitting the books on the first floor of the library. We absolve others by insisting that “they really are good guys at heart” or by justifying their actions with a nod to their comps distinctions. A student who drives an Audi or wears Patagonia fleeces is seen as incapable of being truly bad because of some imaginary notion of their moral upbringing. It is so naïve to think that someone is a better person because he or she was raised with money and it is ridiculous to think that as young adults, there aren’t some of us who use our intelligence irresponsibly and immaturely.

Our problem is that we see things as so cut and dry. One student receives hateful, discriminatory mail and we are all up in arms. We ask, who would do such a thing? I think the better question is, what could we do to make that student feel safe and welcome? Instead of asking who would light paper towels on fire in Sayles, ask, who witnessed it and why didn’t they tell someone? We get so used to forgiving acts like this, but are surprised when they become something bigger. I don’t understand why we are so shocked that some narcissistic student would rip a radiator off of the wall of Sevy when he is being encouraged not only by his friends, but also by the rest of us who walk by and laugh or simply don’t say anything at all.

In the end, Carleton is the real world­­ dressed as something prettier and until we can come to terms with that, this cycle of malice and absurdity will continue. By taking ownership of our community, we could have the opportunity to save our bubble before it breaks, but holding empty forums and pointing accusatory fingers is not the answer. Sure we are smart here at Carleton, but in the scheme of things, we are not the least bit special. Complacency is not possible anymore because we are all faced with this uncomfortable truth. Go out of your way to prove yourself because as it stands, being a Carleton student isn’t enough.

-Max Davidson is a third-year student.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *