When you look at the social strata of RIT’s student body, you’ll notice right away that there’s no overwhelming majority. I say “strata,” because — like high school — there are stark divisions in the rock. Between building 7, the engineering building, frat row, and the field house, you’re looking at a pretty entrenched social system.
There’s an uneasy tension between the groups, a subtle disapproval of each other’s lifestyles. We’re all guilty of it (see last week’s editorial comic), but I doubt many are aware of how pervasive the problem is. If we’re all looking at each other and thinking, “Hey, jerk bag, stop looking like a douche and un-pop your collar,” it doesn’t really lead to a friendly campus.
Beyond the simple “we fear things that are different from us” explanation, I think the root of the problem lies in our expectations of what college life is supposed to be like.
Not to pick on them, but Humans vs. Zombies is an extremely visible example of my point. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the HvZ kids are a much talked about presence on campus. Now, I imagine playing HvZ is pretty exciting. I’ll admit that I secretly have a zombie-outbreak-emergency-plan. However, I do find the game extremely vexing. In large part, I think it’s because it doesn’t fit into my expectations of what college life is like.
I think that’s where a lot of the tension comes from. We all came to RIT for different reasons, expecting different things. The administration would call this “diversity.” I would call it a mess. (I’m not talking about ethnicity or race here, that’s a whole different bag of apples.)
Diverse interests lead to conflicts, almost always. When I see an HvZ player, I’m not just seeing a green armband; I’m seeing how his or her interests are infringing upon my piece of RIT’s pie. It’s an irrational thought, yes. But it’s there and I can’t imagine I’m the only one who’s had it.
Where this really surfaces is when I listen to people in positions of power talk about “what students want.” They’re tasked with sorting through all of the competing interests of the RIT community and developing some semblance of a good idea. While on a tour of the SAU renovations, my guide (an administrator from Student Affairs) candidly admitted, “We have no idea what students will do with it, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
They’ve probably drawn the same conclusion I have: No matter what gets built or what decisions are made, students will inevitably either embrace it or feel alienated by it.
That being said, they did get one thing right (see “Twenty Minutes with Girl Talk”). It turns out, whether you’re a hipster or a frat boy, a human or a zombie, RIT kids like to dance.
Editor in Chief