And so it’s finally done. After years of thinly veiled attempts to control the day-to-day lives of the student body, the lower administration has finally convinced the upper that what students need more than anything is another mommy and daddy. Once their overbearing policies are in place, the only distinguishing characteristic of Lawrence will be a slew of angry alumni and a few remaining classes of frustrated and disappointed students.
When I came to Lawrence six years ago, the campus environment encouraged living your own life as much as it did learning how to read Plato and compute a derivative.
We were suddenly free of much the safety of our adolescence and burdened with many of the responsibilities of our adulthood; learning to live with these responsibilities was a vital part of being a successful student, and not surprisingly, a successful person.
We were given the opportunity to experiment and were left to deal with the consequences. Living with these consequences was absolutely irreplaceable. No matter how well-meaning, no advice from a sibling or peer and certainly not an LU bureaucrat could have replaced those experiences.
Evidently, this is no longer the environment at Lawrence. Evidently students are now to trust Paul Shrode and Nancy Truesdell with making their decisions for them. Is smoking bad for you? Of course. Is it a bad choice? That’s an adult decision that is the students’ to make.
The administration’s mantra that the policy against smoking is an issue of worker’s safety would be comical if it were not made so boring through repetition.
Certainly, if workers and students are forced to live uncomfortably due to smokers in their midst, space should be made available to them.
But the idea that a smoking lounge in the basement or a 15-foot halo around a non-smoking building is equivalent to harassment is unrealistic. The statements made about the latent effects of cigarette smoke sound more like ghost stories than science. This is clear to everyone, including the administration, which points to their actual motive: as they see it, if you do as they say, you’ll be a better person.
The fact remains that people are not made “better” through actions that they are not allowed to choose for themselves.
Similarly, the change in the format of the Senior Dinner and the traditional Senior Streak points to a paternal agenda: “Drinking is bad. Streaking is bad. Trust us.”
This is one of the few uniquely Lawrence traditions. It is true that many other colleges of Lawrence’s ilk have abolished smoking on campus and have no such traditions as Senior Streak, but dare I invoke the “Lawrence Difference” clich?
If there is or ever was such a thing, it is rapidly being watered down and rinsed away by those on the quasi-PC bandwagon who feel that inter-collegiate homogeneity suits Lawrence’s interests.
In the last few years, for better or for worse, the degree requirements and department makeups have been tweaked, the anti-smoking policy and now anti-streak policy are in their final stages, and whether they’ll admit it or not, a dry campus policy will not be too far behind.
All this to make Lawrence just like any other school out there. Well, I did not go to any other school, and it remains to this day the best decision I ever made. I chose, as many before and since have, to go to Lawrence, not to smoke, to drink a little, to study a lot, and to weigh my decisions carefully.
If the administration now wishes to baby-sit their students and turn Lawrence into just another little school, then they can rest assured that they won’t have to worry about babysitting my children, my money, or any prospective students who ask me about Lawrence.
I will only support and endorse the school where I learned so much, not just about my field, but also about the consequences of my actions. I will only support the school that allowed me to live the life that I chose, and that school, evidently, has all but disappeared.
Adam Pelzer, 2002