When approaching people to inquire whether they might consider writing a perspective for the Record, I always feel slightly guilty – a bit like a door-to-door carpet cleaner salesperson must feel.
I feel this guilt mostly because I know people are already so busy. The most popular conversation on campus goes something like this:
Harold (an ambiguous designation, not representative of Goshen College’s Harold population in general): “Ugh, this is going to be a miserable night. I have a ten-page political science paper due tomorrow that I haven’t even started yet, and then I have to study for my Spanish test. Plus, I have an intramural ping-pong game.”
Patty (a similarly ambiguous person): You think that’s a lot? (laughs derisively). Well I have chorale practice, and then I have a presentation to plan, two 20-page papers to write, five books to read and four tests to study for. I hate college.
Patty and Harold continue in this vein for some time, each boasting about how irresponsible he or she has been in putting work off until the last minute.
We college students lead such conflicted lives. We pay thousands of dollars to become educated, and then we spend all four years of college complaining that we actually have to learn stuff.
I realize that most of our complaining is just meaningless banter – the college student equivalent of the “How-are-you?-Fine” conversation. But if we took on a more positive attitude about schoolwork in our small talk, maybe when it came down to it, we would be more excited about actually doing homework.
The same goes for perspectives writing. It takes up time, yes. But there is something truly satisfying in the challenge of expressing your values and beliefs in a 400-word piece to be read by the entire campus community and beyond.
So the next time I approach one of you about writing a perspective, I refuse to feel (or act, you’ll be glad to know) like a predator. Surely you can spare an hour between practice for “The Gondoliers” and your biology group meeting to bear a little of your soul in Times New Roman ink. I think you’ll enjoy it.