Despite the diversity of views among Fordham students, in my final year, I face the reality that not all people are as socially aware or “modern” in their views as the people surrounding me at school. I sit in my off-campus house with my friends and discuss the release of Brock Turner with absolute certainty that everyone around me agrees that he ought to have been given a harsher sentence. I forget that in just nine short months, I will face a world full of much more diversity than I have ever found here.
Regardless of political, social or religious views, my experience seems to be fairly universal — people often surround themselves with like-minded individuals. It is only natural to want to develop relationships that share ideas and values, but the reality is that it can be harmful to students later in life. I cannot easily explain to someone the importance of trigger warnings without becoming emotionally charged, or avoid rolling my eyes when I hear people say those on welfare are just “abusing the system.” Quite frankly, I have rarely had to. I have enjoyed my bubble of familiarity, and while I certainly have friends with whom I disagree on certain topics, there are few people in my life who will not discuss the abusive western patriarchy at any given time.
To an extent, I wish I had not done this, and I encourage other students not to do this. My years at Fordham have been some of the best of my life, and in the fields of professional competency and intellectual stimulation, I have been well-prepared for the road ahead.
However, as I begin my final year, I realize I am not yet prepared to lose my bubble. Schools should have safe spaces. They should have groups that allow students to be comfortable in their identity and social status. But it is our responsibility as students to expose ourselves to those with whom we disagree and those whom we wish to avoid, or we will never be able to use the skills that we have developed through these four years.
There is a world of diverse opinions that are far more varied than we would believe. When I (hopefully) begin to take on this world in just nine months, I will encounter many people of different walks of life, and I wish I had prepared myself more to engage with those encounters rather than avoid them. At the end of the day, our education, our pursuit of social justice and our personal values that we develop throughout these years amount to nothing if we cannot bring them out into the world. We are the only ones who can prepare ourselves do to just this.