Sayonara Sag-Faces — It’s Been Apathetic

    I’ve always felt like the odd one out at UCSD. The moment I walked into my Tioga freshman triple, I felt isolated — I realized I was going to be the token white kid for an entire year, and I’d never experienced such culture and identity shock.

    Whenever I’d peek into my suitemates’ rooms on a Friday and ask if they wanted to see a show at the Che Cafe or go on a beach adventure, they’d politely decline and return to Guitar Hero or studying chemical compounds. If it weren’t for fellow Guardian columnist and science misfit Philip Rhie, who accompanied me on weekend skate trips and philosophical talks, I wouldn’t have had any close friends then. It took ‘til Fall Quarter of my second year to finally muster enough initiative to apply to be a Guardian writer and awaken from my deep funk. This choice marked my start of a new lifestyle on this fickle campus.

    I have felt unbelievable lows here, even though our school is located in a gorgeous beach town with universe-rivaling weather. Yes, the other reason I feel so left out is because you can separate UCSD kids into two basic categories: those who care and those who don’t. And the latter is an overwhelming majority on campus.

    Those who care enjoy a healthy social life by participating in student orgs and attending on-campus events, forging a community in the starved business-park landscape that is La Jolla. They’re conscious of what goes on at school. Although they often feel hopeless in such a barren atmosphere, they do their best to seek others who care. They’re inclusive, but they stick together and bond on the tiny island that rests in a sea of the majority: those who don’t.

    This other mass of students isn’t fully at fault for not caring — competition is fierce here, so constant study sessions are essential to grad-school acceptance — but in the past few weeks of real pain and frustration, chants of “Whose university?” made it abundantly clear who has shaped this school more than anyone else: the apathetic. They are the majority; they are oblivious and often selfish.

    To these students — many of whom I realize don’t bother to read this paper — I ask you all to please take a deep breath and look outside yourself. Are you happy with your university? More importantly, are you satisfied with your life here? Forget the free speech debate, forget whether or not you think the Koala’s funny, forget the absurd idea that we live in a “post-racial” society (whatever that means) — just picture a black student coming here as a freshman, not knowing anyone. Do you honestly believe that this campus would provide a nurturing environment for him or her?

    To me, that seems like a nearly impossible task — at least, as the school stands today. I came here with the same skin color as about 40 percent of my peers, and for over a year I’d never felt more alone in my life. The only reason I survived UCSD is because a small, tight-knit group of Guardian editors and writers formed a social scene in a vacuum, managing an elusive good time on an island of our own. These were friends I could party with, have close conversation with, create a community with — basically, human beings. I can’t thank them enough for that. They are the reason I will leave this confused institution with some dignity, knowing that we did our best to influence the apathetic boulder’s path toward self-interest. Because it’s not all about you.

    I felt a mix of serious pride and exhaustion as many of us walked out of the administration’s teach-in, chanting “Real pain, real action,” like we depended on those words to endure here. It didn’t matter that we were only a few hundred shouting our heads off while thousands upon thousands of kids in rooms all across campus stared at PowerPoints with glazed eyeballs. For the first time, I actually felt honored to call myself a UCSD student. Thank you, those who care, for sharing these few prized moments with me. It feels like a sea change.

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