Repairing Disillusionment

Since committing here last May, my home friends have endured my ceaseless gushing over Olin. I get my own bathroom. The cafeteria has this delicious Indian food all the time. I can major in Materials Science. There are no grades, nor unhealthy competition. Did I mention how all 340 students are besties, have complementary personalities to mine, and yet the community is super diverse? The curriculum teaches every engineering innovation imaginable. Group projects are a breeze, since everyone is extremely motivated. The campus is super safe; there has never been a sexual assault. And when it’s all over, we decide among options such as Microsoft, Google, and a Stanford PhD program, because the world values Olin graduates above all others.

Doesn’t that sound so nice?

No, the purpose of this article is not to brag about our school – it’s mostly about disillusionment. Though I often toe the line between optimism and gross exaggeration, I truly believed all of those things about Olin. I’m now forced to face reality.

I read the articles “It Happens Here,” and “It Still Happens Here” published in Frankly Speaking. I hounded a team member to show up. I grew bored with pizza. I noticed the holes in the Materials Science major curriculum and in the math program. The school shrunk so quickly! A tough homework assignment brought out my first round of tears. Being scared at a party brought out the second. Mean words from a classmate brought out the third. Since then, I’ve lost count.

Call me naïve, but I feel entitled to freedom from the problems – disrespect, violence, and a limited menu –which the rest of the world faces. I resent the college for falling short of the utopia I wish it was.
Don’t get me wrong – I love Olin. I’ve grown to enjoy things I never expected to, like programming. (I used to think it was all in binary… big disappointment.) My friends are super reliable and interesting. I get to spend more time singing than ever before. I’m becoming somebody who makes the people I love proud. But we can do better.
As a community, I believe that we should fight for what we wanted when we came here. I can handle disillusionment with the dining hall food, or just how small 340 people can be. I can even accept that as a student body, we have minimal diversity. But I definitely cannot feel fully content with Olin while there are students who feel disrespected and unsafe. That one’s on us. We do not have the luxury of removing ourselves emotionally when the upsetting things that happen here surface.

I wish I was at a school that never experienced sexual assault, or difficult group members, or fear. Maybe the current situation is for the best, because a perfect school wouldn’t prepare us for the real world. But I believe that if we settle for less now, we won’t have strong enough spines to change the world after we leave the bubble.