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A better campus starts with you

April 4th, 2014

Pay close attention to what I’m about to say. Brace yourself, because this might be a shock to your delicate system that never hears this.

You are not that important.

How do I know this? Well, if you’re reading this column, you’re most likely a John Carroll student; which lately seems to make you among the most entitled and self-righteous people on the planet.

If you’re reading this sentence, you did not toss this issue in the trash can yet, so I thank you. And before you go on, understand something. This is not a blind rant about this campus. My goal is not to bash the place I’ve called home for four years. I’m just trying to figure out we got to a point where people in positions on campus became so factionalized that this “us vs. them” mentality developed.

Looking at the smiling faces and blue skies on our marketing materials, we’re painted as a happy family. In the real world, all I’ve heard this year is “Person A and Person B can’t work together,” or “these two groups just can’t get along.”

You walk around this place, and it almost feels like a funeral sometimes. Why? People are too engrossed in their cliques and text conversations to notice the world around them. If they do notice, its often to put down another person or group. It’s like some of us suddenly developed Napoleon complexes and forgot who we really are.

In all seriousness, there are some simple lessons I’ve learned on John Carroll’s campus in the last four years. Take them for what you will, and if you’re one of these people that is struggling with your own “demi-god” status, maybe they’ll help you come back to Earth with the rest of us.

What you say in 140 characters does not matter, especially your catty subtweets about your supposed friends. You’re allowed to make friends with people that are no t “brothers” or “sisters.” You can eat on the “B side” of the cafeteria: nerds don’t bite. I know, I’m one of them.

The segment you’re taping for JCTV-4 or the show you’re hosting on WJCU does not make you a rockstar, it makes you one of a group of kids trying to learn new skills. Heck, even this column doesn’t make me anything more than a guy with an opinion.

You are not better or worse than anyone else because you belong to the Greek Life, athletics, service, diversity or girls who wear North Faces and UGGs communities. Being in these groups, sitting in the same row at Mass every week and giving tours does not place you on a pedestal above the people who work full-time to pay for school and don’t belong to any clubs.

And oh by the way, business majors, you will make more money than most of us. But stop hating on people who like communications, art history or exercise science.

The changes each of us can make to build a better community are simple.

First, stop with the drama. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard of someone trying to take another student out at the knees to advance their own agenda this year, I would be able to pay off all of my loans twice.

Second, make a list of what you do. If it makes you happy, check it off. If you do it for a resume line or because the people around you want you to, quit. You’ll make everyone happier, including yourself, in the long run.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been guilty of some of the things I’m complaining about. But a good friend reminded me recently that nothing that happened to you yesterday, today or tomorrow defines you. Your friends and enemies don’t either.

The happiest people are the ones who are content with who they are without seeking the approval of others. So wake up tomorrow and be the best person for yourself and others that you’ve been in years. Unless you think I’m full of it, in which case, ignore me. I await your angry tweets.