Hunter Johnson, Commentary Editor
Well, the time has come, my friends: It’s time for the customary end-of-the-year farewell story from the commentary editor! Some of my predecessors have taken this opportunity to look back on the year and reflect on all that has happened in our little Bubble. For those who were about to graduate, their final story was especially … er … special. These senior commentary editors typically focused on the time they have spent at the University of Dallas, the cherished memories and experiences that helped shape them from fresh, high-school graduates into adults ready to go out and conquer the world.
That’s not me, y’all — well, in the sense that I’ve still got another year left to enjoy all that the Dirty Irv has to offer. This will, however, be my final piece as commentary editor (*teardrop*). Although I’m sad to be relinquishing this job, I look back happily on this year and the opportunity I had to write for you all and to find such great writing talent among the student body.
But I know you don’t want to read all that sappy stuff; I sure don’t want to write it! So what will I write about instead? I would like to focus just a little bit not on where we’ve been, but where we’re going as a student body. What will be our school’s identity in the years to come?
UD is entering a transitional period unlike anything it’s experienced before. The Bubble is being popped. The presence of Las Colinas, more things coming to and happing in Dallas-Fort Worth, and easier access to such things via DART has done wonders to eliminate UD’s isolation from the rest of the Metroplex. Discussions about creating a new, Las Colinas-style business area in Irving, quite literally next door to our campus, will only speed up what I see as the death of the Bubble.
Change is coming, so what are we going to do about it? Will the core of the university adapt and evolve in light of these developments, or will we cling to the way things have been in an attempt to preserve our isolation? I think that the essence of UD will survive, but the overall lifestyle of the UD student must adapt.
If you were to ask someone who knows UD how he or she would sum up the character of our school, he would probably use three particular words: Catholic, academic, conservative. Sure, that’s a bit of a stereotype, but it is pretty accurate when you think about it. We are a school extremely immersed in faith, whose students have an incredible dedication to education and are (more often than not) fairly-to-fiercely socially and politically conservative.
For the record, I’m not saying that there’s anything inherently wrong with any of those qualities — I’m a moderate-conservative myself who’s Catholic and just as concerned with grades as anybody. My concern with the stereotype is how it has affected the UD mindset. In short, I’m afraid that it’s incredibly easy for people on this campus to become narrow-minded.
Despite the fact that the Core strives to create open-minded, independent thinkers, students can become immersed in a mentality that shuts out a lot of the here-and-now. Living in this Bubble for just a few short years can cause many to build up their own personal bubbles. Experiencing such a rigorous academic lifestyle, coupled with a strong Catholic and conservative community, leads many to want to build relationships only with others who have shared this experience. These people can go out into the world and do good work in whatever area they choose while totally ignoring a myriad of issues and people simply because the bubble mentality has fostered in them a sense of elitism.
What’s worse, these people may have an “I don’t need to worry about this-or-that issue, or these-or-those people, because what I’m doing is far more important to the community/country/world” attitude, and not even realize it.
I see the seeds of this sort of mindset all across our campus. Although social issues like abortion are incredibly important, it’s hard to rally students to causes not directly connected to the Catholic faith, because they just don’t see them as that important. Also, the lack of a strong counterpresence to the conservative majority we have here results in many graduating without the skills to defend their viewpoints. They may give several reasons for a given perspective, but if someone else had a strong counter-point, I fear that the UDer would not be able to go beyond the “well I’m still right because I have a better education and you’re an idiot” argument.
I could be incredibly wrong, but I want you to prove me wrong. We ought to be making sure that we don’t get so wrapped up in our higher education and narrow interest areas that we are blinded to the rest of our community. We ought to embrace people with different perspectives, not scare them away.
We can maintain our school’s core identity (a center of higher learning with a strong Catholic presence) while being more open to the rest of the world. Believe it or not, the Bubble is breaking down; we need to make sure that we aren’t building another one in its place — one that will follow us for the rest of our lives.