As the last week of the fall semester wanes and students return home for the duration of winter recess, we would all do well to remember how truly fortunate of a position we enjoy. We attend a world-class university. As a consequence, we are frequently afforded academic and social opportunities, of which many others may only dream. And while we are diverse in our backgrounds, traditions and troubles, there is an undeniably lucky, wonderful and exciting quality that characterizes all of our admission to and experience of the University. The Board encourages students to express their gratitude for the opportunities available at the University to those who make them possible, including University staff, professors and teaching assistants.
This endorsement of the University experience is not to say our community is perfect. Nor is it to ignore that studying and living at this University can entail immense academic stress and social anxiety. In the past few weeks alone, campus protests surrounding the legacy of racism at this institution reminded us that the University is not the Orange Bubble we sometimes imagine it to be. But the privilege of a University education is nonetheless an exceptional one. We should be thankful for it.
The staff of the residential colleges, dining halls, campus stores and more work tirelessly to make our daily lives possible. They dispose of our trash. They sort our mail. They mop our floors. They prepare and serve our food, even at 1:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings. Every student should make an effort to personally thank the staff members who make our lives so much easier. Using their names and engaging them in full conversation during lulls in their work help us better understand their experiences. In addition, making an effort to be cleaner, more courteous and more helpful to staff goes a long way toward reducing their formidable workload.
The same may be said for our teachers and mentors. Professors and teaching assistants, caught in the purgatory of academia and student life, are urged to devote as much time as possible to students because of the University’s proud and firm undergraduate focus. But they were once undergraduates, too. They too had to deal with worries about summer internships, coursework and final exams. We are fortunate they are now here to guide us and perhaps to prevent us from repeating the mistakes they once made in our shoes. The University’s advisors and teachers have devoted their lives to their work, and by extension, to us. We should be less inclined to complain about a worse-than-expected grade on a paper, and we should remember that even if office hours are short or ill-scheduled, they represent the free time of some of the best minds in the world.
Finally, we should reflect on our classmates, friends, dining hall acquaintances and even our adversaries from precept. It is easy, at the University, to forget the mutual vulnerabilities and aspirations that unite us as undergraduates attempting to carve ourselves places in the world. We should thank our classmates for their friendships, their brilliance and their support. And we should attempt to empathize with those whom we are inclined to dismiss or simply forget.
TheEditorial Boardis an independent body and decides its opinions separately from the regular staff and editors of The Daily Princetonian. The Board answers only to its Chair, the Opinion Editor and the Editor-in-Chief.