This summer, a petition floating around the Ole Miss social scene caught my attention. The petition accused the university of atrociously failing at its sacred duty to pack enough fluff into our general education requirements for students to shell out an additional $100 or $200 for textbooks to classes we haven’t been forced to take yet.
To my horror, I saw students proudly signing and sharing this petition in what I can only assume was either a masochistic cult ritual or a coordinated effort for our student body to become the new face of Stockholm syndrome.
The petition, shared on change.org in March, specifically addressed the College of Liberal Arts, which my major does not fall under. So, why do I care?
Well, eventually, these demands are going to spread.
The petition’s first order of business was the addition of six to nine hours of multicultural classes. Looking at the current general education requirements for liberal arts undergraduates, I don’t see what the big fuss is about.
With a required three hours of fine arts, six hours of social science, three hours of humanities and six hours of history, these general requirements are more than enough exposure for students to cultural and social worlds that they may not otherwise put much effort into knowing more about. If I wanted to know anything more about East Asia than what is necessary for my degree, I would minor in it.
The petition then went on to demand that students engage in a mandatory dozen hours of volunteer work for “diversity-related” projects. Hint for the less cynical: That’s code for “social justice.”
The point of volunteer work is that you, well, volunteer for it. The core principal of volunteer work – aside from helping others and giving back to the community, of course – is that you do it on your own time and for a project or cause that you support.
But these organizations are often politically one-sided. For example, although I’ll support it until the day I die, not everyone supports gay marriage, and it would be morally wrong to force a student who didn’t into volunteering with a LGBT organization.
The petitioning party later takes a page from the Borg playbook and goes on to state that this change in curriculum will “institutionalize inclusion.” Another hint: That’s code for “you will like who we like, and you will think how we think.”
Honestly, I was surprised to have finished reading the petition and not have spotted the phrase “resistance is futile,” but world domination in the modern age is a subtle art.
Embracing differences to enjoy the presence of others is a part of being a mature adult and building friendships; however, as college students, we are surrounded by a seemingly infinite number of impenetrable social circles.
I will be the first to admit that it’s probably easier to climb Mount Everest than it is to make friends in college. At least the Everest guide will have a conversation with you.
However, it is not the university’s job to make our friends for us.
So, unless you are going to pay my tuition for the extra semester you’re trying to keep me here, in which case I would still be furious, please do not try to hijack my college education.
Especially if it is just an attempt for you to cram your social agenda onto my degree progress report.
Matthew Dean is a senior criminal justice major from Possumneck.