April 25, 2013

BOOKHEIMER: The Cornell Bubble

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Being an opinion columnist comes with a lot of criticism. Any decent opinion, by definition, will have dissenting viewpoints. Over the past two years, it seems as if my best columns had, along with many supporters, hoards of people who disagreed with me. For example, “Cornell’s Sexiest Majors” caused a lot of controversy. And while I stand by ILR as the sexiest major, if I had to redo the list today, hotelies would be ranked higher. I know, I was wrong.

Yet the best part about being an opinion columnist is arguably the criticism. Where else will my opinions be tested by such a large number of people? I mostly surround myself with people who enjoy my presence, and who usually don’t contest my basic beliefs on a daily basis. But when strangers read what I have to say, they react based solely on my words. Even if I don’t agree with the hateful, anonymous comments, I have had an opportunity to understand different perspectives on subjects I thought I had figured out.

That, along with the celebrity (ha), will be what I miss most about being a Sun columnist. On a more broad scale, it also represents an aspect of Cornell I will miss — the constant critiques.

Let me share a story with you. I was talking to a sexual assault prevention activist at another school who threw these great parties called “Party With Consent,” where guests came with a heightened awareness of sexual consent. Counter to these parties, however, were rebels who would throw “Parties Without Consent.” He warned me that if I tried anything like this at Cornell, this counter group could rise up against me.

I disagreed. The Cornell community clearly has its problems with general bias and sexual assault. But call me naive — I couldn’t imagine these types of anti-consent parties being thrown on our campus. Not only does our community have a heightened awareness of these issues, but frankly, the party hosts would be tarred and feathered. The people here won’t let you get away with such blatant disrespect. We as a community keep each other in check, and although sometimes we feel like people are just “whining activists,” this is something we take for granted.

When we enter the real world, there will be no one to constantly question our stupid ideas. You can tweet whatever racist, sexist, etc.-ist think you want and, unless you are famous, no one will really care. But at Cornell, the community forces you to constantly check what you do or say, until eventually you grow into a more accepting person. At least, that is what my experience has been here.

So if you haven’t figured it out yet from the slew of other final columns this week this is my last column. I grew from being the not-so-secret sex columnist to coming out from behind the clock to show you a little more of who I am. Sorry, I’m not sorry if your story was told in one of my columns. More often than not, however, it probably wasn’t you I was talking about. And to all the boys who asked to be written about: If you have to ask, you aren’t interesting enough.

So for everyone who isn’t graduating this year: revel in the bizarre social consequences that come from being a Cornellian. As someone who has spent a decent chunk of her Cornell experience thinking about sex and relationships, let me me leave you with some parting words of wisdom. There are no missed connections — you’ll see them again somewhere. There is a scientific fact that if you dance floor make out with someone at a party freshman year, you will see them once a week on campus, never saying hello until senior year when you decide you might as well be friends. You’re living in a social bubble; now is the time to find out who you are.

So farewell, Cornell. Thanks for the stories.

Morgan Bookheimer is a senior in the College of Human Ecology. She may be reached at mbookheimer@cornellsun.com. Behind the Time appears alternate Thursdays this semester.

Original Author: Morgan Bookheimer