Recent events have shown that we affect the Appleton community as much as the community affects us. We are not in an isolated sphere separate from Appleton; rather, we are one of sole institutions driving the Appleton community.
Fall Term, students of color and their allies had a protest about consistent racial harassment down College Avenue. I was one of the protestors and my friend and I stood face to face with a racist middle-age white man in the farmers market telling us that our experiences were invalid and called us “stupid” in the process.
At that point I felt as though this idea of the Lawrence bubble was nothing but an illusion that protected us from the “realities” of the world.
Another example where Lawrence’s logic seem to fail is when students of color were met with death threats by Appleton community members, because of a list of demands.
Where was the Lawrence bubble when hundreds of people from the Appleton community came to see Bill Clinton at the campus center? The point that I am trying to articulate is that Lawrence interacts with the community more then we would like to admit.
Lawrence may not be a big university, but we should not underestimate the influence we have on the Appleton community. Some of the ideas that are coming out of Lawrence and seeping into outside community can be construed by community members as “too liberal.”
Lawrence is already seen as this hippie school that is LGBTQ+ friendly and full of racial diversity, compared to some of its other institutional counterparts in the Fox Cities.
When speaking about the relationship between Appleton and Lawrence there is a class undertone that exists. The “Lawrence bubble” is more indicative of a social and class divide instead of an isolated college student body that is too busy to engage with the outside community or that does not want to engage at all.
Geographically we are not isolated from the Appleton community, unlike some schools we are not in the middle of nowhere—contrary to popular belief. Lawrence is located in downtown Appleton, which has a way more interesting nightlife than Neenah or Menasha. We also have a major street that goes right through our campus that trucks and cars from all over use.
The Lawrence bubble is a mindset that students and faculty have adopted to isolate themselves from the rest of the world, but historically college institutions have played a huge role in influencing the politics of the local community—whether it is a big city or small city—that they are a part of.
As college students we have the agency to decide whether we want to engage in the “real world”..
I have to admit, I have used the excuse of the Lawrence bubble as a way to isolate myself from all the political unrest and violence that is happening around the globe.
Coming from Brooklyn, N.Y., I was consistently exposed to the violence happening in my neighborhood via news. When I came to Lawrence it was easy for me to ignore the Appleton community and what was happening, because I did not necessarily have to listen. But I realize just because I have more agency to decide whether I want to engage in the outside world does not mean that I am isolated from it or not impacted by it.
This idea of the Lawrence bubble creates a feeling of isolation from the grander world, but it is only a mental illusion.