Walking through the stacks of Frost Library reminds us of the overwhelming volume of published material in the world. No matter how many classes we take, there are always more books we could read, more textbooks from which we can learn and more people to whom we can listen. There is so much we will not know simply because of limited time. However, the feeling of not knowing enough should not become a state of hopeless stagnation.
On Monday, Amherst College officially (and finally) announced its first-ever official mascot: the Mammoths. This change comes on the heels of the student body’s majority decision to reject the college’s long-time unofficial mascot, the Lord Jeff, because of Lord Jeffrey Amherst’s terrible and inhumane treatment of Native Americans. However, in terms of national attention, the controversy over the Lord Jeff is small potatoes compared to the argument over the Washington D.C. football team’s name.
Watching porn at college always reminded me a little bit of Facebook stalking. Lots of people do it, many find it entertaining, and almost everyone would be embarrassed if someone caught them watching it. What’s different about porn is the way we talk about it — or maybe more importantly, the way we don’t. The porn industry is like the mafia boss of entertainment. It’s the most powerful player by far, but we feel afraid or ashamed to address it directly.
My parents emigrated from Lahore to Brooklyn, NY in the early 1990s. I’ve often imagined their arrival in the U.S.: they settled in a country far from home, where people who looked nothing like them spoke an unfamiliar language, with little in the way of a support system. When I imagine their difficulties, I’m impressed by their resilience. Today, Muslim immigrants like my parents are faced with unprecedented circumstances of danger, difficulty and hostility. More importantly, migrants are often members of the larger global working class, which involves them in even larger class struggles.
American culture demands that college students experience immense personal growth during their education. Under such external pressure, how can we make our time and growth at Amherst meaningful? It can feel as if the worth of our education is often framed as dependent on how much we change or how much we learn. While the pursuit of growth is an admirable ambition, we should be cautious of obsessing over volume and should remain critical of what our growth actually looks like. What are the indicators of development? Who chooses those indicators?
Earlier this year, I wrote an article for The Amherst Student titled “Try Tray-less.” In it, I urged those who were against the tray-less movement to simply give it a try and see if it really affected their dining experience in Valentine. I was driven to write this article because I was initially skeptical of going tray-less, but once I stopped using one, I realized that it didn’t greatly affect my Val experience. In fact, since going tray-less, I’ve found that I am far less likely to end up with a significant amount of food waste on my plate.
This letter was written by the Department of History in response to an opinion article by students on the college's disability policies published in The Amherst Student on March 8.
To The Roosevelt Institute at Amherst,