Don’t close the lid on hopeBy Matt Ford | 04/17/2014 10:52am
One of my favorite legends in Greek mythology is its explanation of the origin of humanity’s evils. Pandora, an exceptionally beautiful and talented woman, crafted on Olympus and placed on Earth, was given two things by the gods: a box she is told she must never open and an unquenchable curiosity. Of course, she eventually opened the box and all the vile aspects of life inside – avarice, deceit, murder, etc. – were unleashed upon mankind. In horror, Pandora slammed the lid of the box shut, trapping only one element that was waiting at the bottom: hope.
I see a great deal of our campus in this myth. When I first accepted the offer to write a senior column and sat down to do so, I was going to write a letter to students considering attending The University of Alabama. I was planning to write a letter imploring them not to come here and to choose another college instead.
The reasons would be easy enough for anyone looking with an objective, outsider’s view of our campus and its culture to see; I say that as someone born and raised in Tuscaloosa. We finally celebrated a racially integrated Greek system – in 2013. Our university is in the national media practically every semester for some new scandal, after which University Relations scrambles to make everything appear pastoral and rosy again before the cycle repeats. And our SGA fails to represent the whole of the student body, instead mostly serving white Greeks.
It seems that these all represent an outdated, old-school manner of thinking that too much of our culture buys into. Our administration, the leaders of this campus who we trust to represent every student equally, happily caters to it. And I catered to it for more than half of my college career.
So yes, it’s easy to tell a hopeful, fresh-out-of-high-school kid to go somewhere else and skip having to deal with all that.
But of the many important things I’ve learned during my time here, it’s that if we want to better this campus, we need to have some people fighting for inclusivity and equality. Students and faculty should be able to feel comfortable talking about these issues and, most importantly, actually taking action based on what is said. Simple “dialogue” is not enough – just ask Melanie Gotz about that.
The new generation of students, especially with the influx of out-of-state freshmen, is having an effect in the right direction. The university I’m graduating from next month is not the same one I entered in August 2010. Besides the physical differences – increase in population and geographic alterations – our student body is beginning to address issues head-on that have been around for decades.
We can’t afford to close the lid on hope. It is our saving grace as we proceed into the future, and its manifestation is the ever-evolving mindset of the University’s new best and brightest. It would be easy to give up – I almost did. But with hope and a little courage, I know further change is feasible. I’ve seen it myself as it affected this campus last fall, and I’ve seen it within myself since I sat in my first lecture hall in August four years ago.
Matt Ford was the magazine editor of The Crimson White.