Kate McCabe / Gavel Media

Yes, Student Opinions Matter

“You’ll watch him change his fluffy liberal mind when he gets older. Don’t you worry.” “Those screaming youth and their ‘oh, so silly’ climate change protests.” These are some one-liners many students have heard in one way or another, at least a few times. They make up an omnipresent sentiment of youth being disillusioned, which has manifested itself in some respective unique way for decades.

For a lot of college students, there exists a sort of divide between “school you” and “everywhere else you.” For me, the most visible symptom of this divide is when I go home to tell people about what I am up to at BC. At this point in time, I’m the “everywhere else me.” I tell them that my classes are good but hard with a smile, that my involvements outside of the classroom are fun and important, and that my companions and friends are some spectacular folks. This is all true, to some extent. Upon recentering myself in the swing of the semester in Chestnut Hill, though, I realize how different things feel. I know that, once I step back home, I will hopefully be thankful for everything as it was. But at school, I feel overwhelmed, motivated, and tired on occasion. That is to say, the conversations, study sessions, and pursuit of knowledge both in and out of the classroom in which I am partaking are in full swing. I am in “school me mode.”

The “everywhere else me” gives others a pretty good idea of what “school me” is going through. However, it just is not the same as “being there.” This example may give a glimpse into the impact one of the statements above can have on a busy college student. The appreciation and admiration others give to our interests, talents, and strengths is paradoxical to our branding as short-term liberals with our heads in the clouds. In my case, an interest in science, a core conviction to be overtly kind, my faith in God, and a lifelong desire for learning and service do not vanish into thin air when I formulate my political views. I registered as a Democrat after having the privilege to reflect, self-develop, and learn over many years in well-respected schooling. I have taken the same critical care and attention for which I receive praise in an academic context, and used it to evaluate the political arena. I stand by the fact that I have not yet entered the “real world,” but that exalted caring side of me has certainly tried to listen empathically and hear the stories of others in-person and in-text.

I propose a greater degree of consideration before isolating others’ opinions, and lived experiences, as contrary or inferior to others. With this also comes the interplay of accountability. We can expect others to have some idea, some proposal, or some solution for the common good of us all after doing some authentic reflecting in the absence of noise. The goal, after all, is to carry oneself with integrity and to be able to see others and their views transparently. When this occurs, “school me” and “everywhere else me” will be wholly connected and clarified.