Exploring Privilege at Amherst
Issue   |   Wed, 11/09/2011 - 03:02

We are Amherst College students. Together, we make up a unique group of people coming from very different backgrounds. From Amherst legacies to first-generation college students, Amherst brings together a diverse bunch. No matter where we come from, we are all attending the same fine institution endowed with much to offer. Sadly, however, many of the privileges that we as Amherst students have go unrecognized. We may get caught up with our own lives, schoolwork and extracurricular activities, but this is no excuse for us to forget or ignore all the privileges Amherst has to offer us.

One common complaint amongst Amherst students thrown around is Val.
We have all heard it: it’s too small, the food sucks and the hours do not accommodate students’ schedules. Whatever your issues are with Val, you have to remember that Val consistently feeds our student body seven days a week, three times a day throughout the school year. We should all simply appreciate the fact that we have access to food three times a day every week.

If this fact alone is not enough to make you appreciate Val, consider as well the quantity and variety of food that we have access to. Everyday, there are blenders for your morning smoothies, a waffle maker, a Panini press, various types of cereal, a salad bar stocked with veggies, dressings and toppings, a number of lighter side options and a selection of deli meats and cheeses all in addition to the main dishes being served. The vast improvements Val has taken over the course of the summer and this semester cannot be ignored. These improvements are proof that Val is working to meet our desires. Rome wasn’t built in a day. We can’t expect Val to suddenly turn into the dining hall of everyone’s dreams. It takes time and patience on our part. While we wait, why not appreciate how far Val has come?

Beyond just Val, another thing we take advantage of is the fact that we do not have to worry about the daily maintenance of our college. Daily, others prepare our meals and wash our dishes. We just have to go in and out of our dorms or the dining halls to enjoy access to what would not be possible without the hard work of others. There are people who keep the college running and we fail to acknowledge them. Even if we show appreciation for the Val workers and dorm custodians, what about the Facilities workers? During the fall, students do not have to worry about leaves. They are blown away. When the snow piles up outside, the paths are cleared.

With this recent snowstorm, Facilities worked hard to keep us sane and connected. Every day, custodians come into our dorms and keep our dorms habitable. They empty out our trash and recycling bins, clean our restrooms and keep our common spaces clean and tidy. What do we worry about? The only thing students really have to worry about is their room and their laundry. Considering how much is done for us on a daily basis, those two responsibilities are nothing.

Let’s be respectful of our surroundings. Clean up after yourself. Don’t make the custodians’ jobs anymore difficult.

We are all lucky to be living in a residential campus. There are plenty of suitable dormitories students can live in. From the Freshman Quad to theme houses, there is a room for every student. Yet, people still complain about the dorms. Some dorms are not as “nice” as others, they say, or some dorms are too far away from campus, or some of the rooms are too small. These complaints go on. However, we are fortunate just to live on or very close to campus. If you live in dorms off campus, your walk to campus is nothing compared to the distance some other college students in the nation have to commute. Unlike them, we do not have to worry about daily commutes. Our daily routines do not deal with the time and money that goes into commuting. Our time is not spent worrying about gas and traffic.

We should be grateful that we even have a room to call our own. To complain about a small room when there are others in this world without a home is quite trivial. We all are privileged. The least we can do is appreciate what we are fortunate to have. After all, it’s not like we don’t have the time or energy for it. Thanks to the hard work and efforts of others, we do.