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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Writer: Student body needs to rethink its priorities

< to talk about the Carleton bubble. I haven’t really talked to anybody about the Carleton bubble since I was a freshman, but that is not, I think, something that indicates it has burst. Rather, it seems to me that it is no longer a dangling feature of Carleton, but instead a defining component of this school—something not fought against or even joked about, but taken for granted and even appreciated by everyone who is a part of this community. Nobody talks about how Carleton, by its physical location and its position as an academic institution, is entirely removed from real problems. I believe that this isolation from real problems has adversely affected students here by limiting the depth of their knowledge of social realities, and made individuals under its protection hyperopic with respect to their personal, political actions.

This means that many students on campus have decided to privilege their own comfort and safety over the survival and opportunities of people with real problems. This manifests in two negative social practices that I find to be disgustingly prevalent throughout the student body. The first, in my mind, is the fetishization of safety; clinging  to things like trigger warnings and the like, to pursue such things without first ensuring that all has been done to secure the livelihoods of people with real problems is a gross sin against the respectful and ethical
treatment of fellow humans. This leads to the second negative social practice that the safety fetish creates: prejudiced and selective awareness of political and economic inequality. First week, I heard a white, blonde (and thus eminently privileged) freshman loudly proclaiming the low quality of the eggs at LDC within earshot of the chefs who had prepared them. The eggs and their makers were, to say the least, insufficient to satisfy her standards of quality service. There is deep inequality between the complainer and those complained about which I believe means that this instance was not an innocent faux pas. Instead, it betrays a shameful thoughtlessness for working folks to whom she should feel indebted. By no virtue of her own, this individual has secured a place within an environment (under the dome of “The Bubble”) where her every physical need is attended to. She has a bed to sleep in. Food is available, hot and prepared, for her at all hours. Her parent’s money has bought her the service of blue collar locals whose livelihoods depend on the faithful, consistent, and vigorously scrutinized execution of pre-appointed duties to maintain a community. Due to their contrasting situation, students under “The Bubble” must understand
that, for the most part, they left their class status behind them when they started school here. When they live under “The Bubble,” they are upper-middle class. Because of its stockpiled wealth and curated lineup of tenured faculty, Carleton could survive for years without students;
without the hard-working people who manage it, this institution could run aground in minutes.

The staff of this institution deserve deep respect–certainly more than that deserved by freshmen–not least because they are people with real problems. They pay insurance bills, utility bills, TV bills. They have debts and taxes. They buy their own food, and cook it for themselves and their families. They work overtime, multiple jobs, and sometimes no jobs. They have children, parents, and grandparents who need their physical, emotional, and financial support. They have real problems. May God damn your eggs.

On a truly equality-oriented campus, public outcry would be directed at the real problems–real evils– so obvious in our global community, and our local one. No one should give a damn about the name of Ebony/Synchrony–less than a mile from where I sit here in Sevy, there are Latino families praying for deliverance from immigration authorities. Where is the campus outcry about that; why isn’t Carleton at the forefront of this issue which has decayed and destroyed the communities in our area for a decade? All real problems drag with them direct, measurable,
economic consequences. The economic and political disenfranchisement of people of color, LGBTQ, and minority religious people is thus a real problem. The persecution of the undocumented, the indebted, and the unemployed is a real problem. But the problems of a Carleton student, whether emotional, academic, or social should not merit prioritization over the protection and improvement of people with real problems. There are many fools here who would prefer to carry the crosses of piety, anxiety, and social notoriety, rather than to help hold up the crosses of those with real problems. I invalidate their pain. I invalidate their “experience.” I do not respect their choices.
May God damn their eggs.

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