My email and Facebook news feed have lately been flooded with news and congratulations for the Northwestern class of 2017. An article titled “Let’s Hear It For the Class of 2017” was published on the NU website, and an article in The Daily described the class as “the most selective, diverse class to date.”
Not to sound like a curmudgeon, but I remember when the class of 2015 was the most talented, sought-after class in NU’s history. With each year, every class becomes more selective, more talented and more diverse. And it makes me wonder if these classes are more likely to succeed during their time at NU.
I had to ask myself a very broad, admittedly cheesy question: What does success mean? To answer it, I thought of great students I have met within my past two years at NU who exemplify success.
I think the most successful students here have perspective. They see beyond their classes and beyond the encapsulated world at NU. It’s easy to become stuck in a bubble, but successful students find ways to escape it.
These students see that there is more to life than an “A” in orgo or gaining access or leadership to an exclusive student group. They push beyond the boundaries of campus and fight for causes that inspire them. They spend their weekends doing community service in Evanston and Chicago. But most importantly, they help other students.
The people I appreciate most at NU are those that are willing to stop whatever they are studying for to stop and talk or listen to me. They may be cramming for a chemistry midterm or beginning to pull an all-nighter for a history paper, but they realize that being there for another student is as important as their grade in a class. They have a sense of selflessness that inspires me to remember that it’s all going to be OK.
These kinds of exchanges are hallmarks of success and diversity. Both are dependent on interacting with students of different races, ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses. The most measurable aspect of diversity and success on campus is the scope of our friendships and opinions.
Freshmen, you will probably arrive on campus and instantly click with a student group or your dorm floor. I hope you and these people form an instant group of friends and have a blast all quarter. Maybe you will even join a fraternity or sorority and have a whole new group of friends.
But sometimes in college, we find ourselves sticking to the same group of friends, not willing to put in the time or effort to meet new people. Campus diversity, to me, signifies meeting new people constantly, seeking out the parts of campus that you have not touched before. Although you will likely not be able to meet all 2,000 members of your class, you can always put forth the effort to meet new people and have new experiences on campus.
Campus diversity to me also includes learning and forming new opinions on campus. A few days ago in class, I had a lively debate during class about the relationship between the 1936 and 1972 Olympics during my Jews and Sports class. My Republican-leaning boyfriend and I sometimes debate about politics — yes, cross-political relationships can and do work out! I encourage future freshman to engage in similar debates with classmates, though it should be friendly and knowledgeable.
Now, let me be clear — I might be a bit of a hypocrite in writing this column. At many points during my time at NU, I have failed to reach out to new people, adopt new opinions and gain perspective of the world around me. But though I have made mistakes, I still take inspiration from the people who are doing it right at NU. I only hope that you wonderful freshmen take some time to embody the qualities of the amazing NU students who have come before you.