Collective mindset key to university’s future

With homecoming right around the corner, there will be a herd of alumni in Tuscaloosa this week. They come back every year to enjoy tailgating on the Quad and to relive their days as an undergraduate. This year’s homecoming will be one of my last, and soon I will be joining our extensive alumni network. This realization has left me wondering if my time spent at the University will be something I’ll look back on with fondness or frustration.

It’s easy to get bogged down with working on school, participating in clubs and preparing for post-grad life, but what happens to this university once we leave? This is the time we get to shape not only our future, but the University’s as well. It seems as though the University’s future doesn’t affect us, but our ability to reach post-grad success is directly tied to our university’s reputation. By attending this University, each student is a stakeholder in not only how it operates today but how it grows once we graduate.

However, we seem unconcerned with how our university as a whole appears to the public. The headlines about us overwhelmingly pertain to our oligarchical politics and racist culture. These articles consistently point out systemic problems on campus we need to start proactively addressing in order for us to truly live up to our creed.

Basement deals and discriminatory practices for the sake of social standing is below us. The time has come to dispose of our individualistic mindset and consider the long-term effect of these practices. We must shift our own singular interests to include benefiting our classmates and the future of our college. Our decisions should take into account ways to make campus a better, more inclusive space than ever before.

Homogeneity of thought and action is, at best, dull, and at its worst, positively stifling. The sustained encouragement of it we experience on campus only stunts our growth. We progress, as a whole, by encouraging diverse voices to be heard. It’s frustrating when the majority of our positive publicity pertains to football. Our football program deserves attention for its accomplishments, but the selfish and cowardly actions on campus bar us from being recognized as producing ethical leaders in our future fields. Our university’s reputation should not be an obstacle we need to overcome in order to find success. The heartwarming pride for this university need not be consistently tested by the disheartening decisions made by a minority of our students.

It’s difficult to face the reality of our current campus mentality as an undergraduate, but our university’s reputation continuing this way is completely unacceptable. Together we must advocate for change now, so that as alumni, we can remember our time here with fondness and be thankful we ensured future students could bypass the pettiness and exhausting politics we face every day. It’s unreasonable for us to expect that when we come back, students will suddenly start working together in an honest manner unless we start this process today.

Samantha Rudelich is a junior majoring in business management. Her column runs biweekly.

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