Year’s end is not the time for activism
April 30, 2010
Are students at the College of William and Mary students perpetually dissatisfied? One could be forgiven for believing so. We rail against the political status quo. We are constantly critical of our college administration and the City of Williamsburg. Even student leaders are not immune to accusation and ridicule.
Just look over the campus issues that dominate the news. Students protest prospective coal plants and confederate history month. Accusations are thrown at the College’s administration for their financial record keeping, housing and alcohol policies. Parking Services is demonized. The city’s noise ordinance and the three and four-person rules are despised. The Honor Council is secretive, and the evil Student Assembly is too incompetent and frivolous. Students at the College just don’t have enough fun. Nothing is right with the world.
Perhaps we are dissatisfied but, I would argue, forgivably so. Some of our concerns are certainly legitimate, and others less so, but that is not the point. It is simply in our nature as young people on the cusp of the real world to find faults with the world. In our first glimpses we see what is wrong more quickly, and immediately set ourselves to the task of righting it. It is the role we will play for the next few years of our lives. As youthful agitators, we are not yet entrenched in the structures of society and have no need to defend them. From the outside, we push on the system and attempt to mold it as we see fit. We are unhappy when it pushes back or proves to be too rigid. We may win a few battles but there is always more to do. This naturally breeds, a sort of pessimism.
But a decade or so down the road, I imagine we will find ourselves with families and, hopefully, jobs. We will begin — begrudgingly at first and never completely — to accept and appreciate the world as it is. It will be our job to resist the next wave of young discontents.
It is all part of a dynamic equilibrium. One group is idealistic and ungrounded, the other complacent and experienced. The radical changes sought by the first are opposed by the second. The end result: progress does occur, but gradually. This is better than either never-ending wild change or stolid regularity, but both groups will always bemoan either the sluggishness or rapidity of the process.
It is quite easy to be discontented, especially in the youthful atmosphere of college, but it might be salutary to occasionally remove oneself from the never-ending struggles of the young and old, the liberal and conservative, independence and authority. For a moment, forget everything wrong with the way things are.
Blowout is the perfect time for this. Classes are over, the weather is (hopefully) nice, and summer is almost here. Sure, there are those exams coming up next week, and war, hunger and the drinking age still exist, but the beauty of Blowout is that, for one day, no one will blame you if you choose to not care about them for a while.
E-mail Ed Innace at [email protected]