Op−Ed | Finding your own measuring stick
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 01:02
The other night, I was having an argument with a former friend. He said a lot of things, but the argument culminated with him telling me that I, didn’t “exist at Tufts anymore” before he vanished into the pulsing swarm of Senior Night bodies.
Now, for a bit of background: I went out a lot my freshman year. I drank cheap beer, talked about Radiohead even though I’d never listened to them and moved around in a pack with my hallmates scavenging for girls and the opportunity for a new profile picture—in fact, we were such a tight knit group that I even wrote a piece for the Public Journal about how great our Miller Hall was. That story, by itself, is nothing new; many freshmen go through their first year developing close relationships with their dorm, and in fact many people end up living with former dorm mates. While I in fact do live with former Miller−ites, my activities have changed quite a bit over the past two years. I work now: a clinical psychology internship three days a week, and a part time job the other two. I love this experience. I actually love being part of the early morning commuter force the positions require. There’s something about the humming silence of a charging train at 6:30 in the morning that occasionally can’t be matched for serenity.
However, there are costs associated with this: as my esteemed friend Amanda once asked, “Do you ever go out besides doing stuff with your housemates?” And the answer is yes, but not really in the way people like my angry friend would like. When I go out now, I start eyeing the time after a few hours. I think about what I have to do the next day — especially if it’s a Tuesday night and I have both my internship and volunteer work doing tax assistance the following day. So if what my former pal was trying to say was that old Sam isn’t frequenting the parties the way he used to, then he’d probably be right.
It’s the fact that he claimed I didn’t “exist at Tufts anymore” that really stuck in my craw. Because, frankly, it’s bullying, and it’s completely wrong. Tufts, although recent Winter Bash press might suggest otherwise, only has a “B” nightlife rating on CollegeProwler. With such a score, it seems probable that some people choose to simply abandon our humble party scene altogether, preferring the smug satisfaction that accompanies representing Tufts at a Harvard or MIT party. Or maybe there are people who don’t go to parties at all (too spooky to consider). There’s also a group of Tufts students who commute to school for one reason or another, and how they incorporate Tufts into their lives is unique to each of them. The point that I want to make with this piece is that all of these students equally deserve to call themselves Jumbos.
“Existing” at Tufts is not something that can be determined by anyone else than by the individual doing the existing. Maybe you’re going to entrepreneurial leadership classes from 6 to 9 p.m. and then rushing back to apply the things you’ve learned to your startup idea. Maybe you’re scared of leaving and totally pulling a Cappie from that awful ABC Family show “Greek” (2007−2011) (I had a phase). Tufts, indeed most schools, prides itself on not having just one type of student.
In the final English class of my Tufts career, I read Thomas Mann’s “Tonio Kroger.” It talks about a writer who becomes obsessed with one of his schoolmates, and comes to see that schoolmate as his moral barometer — what this man does is always right. My professor asked if that type of person still existed in our society, someone who represented the pillar of their community, and the best we could come up with was Oprah.
It is difficult to find a prototype for the example above. It’s impossible to create one for a Tufts student. Sure, you can use stereotypes and make people laugh, but you still won’t scratch the surface of what each of us has within us. We arrive, and we band together because new things are scary, and then we begin the slow, effortful process of figuring out who we are. That’s a race we each have to run alone, no matter how many friends we have cheering us on. But we all do it. And, like it or not, being here at Tufts plays a role in that change for each and every one of us.
So, former friend, I won’t let your words hurt me, because I feel I exist here now more than ever. I look at my days and see how Tufts has given me the strength and the words to wake up and do what I do each day. Only the administration and University President Anthony Monaco, if they so desire, can take that away from me.
Big or small, frat or no frat, beer or wine or water, we all exist here. This is our space, our sandbox to muck with for four years, and when your Senior Week comes I urge you to find your own way to reflect and say goodbye. See your experiences by your own measuring stick and not those of others. Smash your own path in the woods.
I may be leaving soon, but I exist here, and so do you. So do we all.
Sam Kronish is a senior majoring in English. He can be reached at Samuel.Kronish@tufts.edu.