The Davidson State of Mind
An Online Exclusive
Published: Friday, May 4, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 13:05
On the day I found out about the TenureGate, I walked into the Union and saw Dr. Hun Lye and his wife sitting on the couch, dejected. On the last night of frolics, when everything was to be forgotten before we fell back into reality, I was there in the BSC and witnessed the Fight of the Year, stunned. I’ve never taken a class with Dr. Lye, nor am I a member of the PCC (or an active participant in its events). In both cases, I was just an innocent bystander, who has now been invited to this raging party of controversy.
As a Korean American, I’m clearly a minority, but I don’t feel like one. I’m not angered by what angers other minority students. I’m angered when the Packers lose. I’m not concerned about Davidson’s lack of diversity either. I’m concerned about Jeremy Lin’s injury. I might be so insensitive because I’ve grown up entitled in a homogenous Korean society. At the same time, I’m a realistic optimist (and maybe an oxy-MORON). So, I don’t always write in response to The Davidsonian, but when I do, I prefer to do it when it matters, with one or two shots of humor.
For instance, if my friend calls me tonight from his gloomy Ivy League dorm room and asks me how’s Davidson, I am not going to say, “dirty,” like not-so-little-anymore Sally does at the end of the latest Mad Men episode. Partly because I’m an insecure fool, who wants to really say, “I’m gonna let you enjoy college, but Davidson College is the best place in the world!” But mostly because this is the closest Davidson gets to the real world, and it is the real world that is dirty, not Davidson. To call Davidson “dirty” in response to what has been happening lately would make me arrogant and ignorant (funny how those words sound alike and always go along in real life, now let’s add Bachmann’t’). Here’s why:
Don’t we say we live in a Davidson bubble? Well, this is how it looks like when the bubble pops: accusations of racism, questions about cultural inclusivity, and laments of lack of intellectual diversity. In the real world, these problems are swept under the rug. Heck, we are too bankrupt to even buy a rug. At Davidson, redbrick jungle where dreams are made, oh, I see unique opportunities and empowered individuals, who take advantage of them.
If you are at a “liberal” institution, then you might have what you asked for or expected: a long list of courses in Africana Studies, Gender Studies, and even engineering for Asians; an open environment where it’s pretentious to wear GSA’s t-shirts; and conversations in which students complain about their Indian biology professor’s accent. But I’m sorry. You’re at Davidson. You are witnessing what you would have never expected: passionate students designing their own interdisciplinary majors or research projects; compassionate individuals sacrificing their valuable time to raise awareness about unjust public policy; and student-driven movements to protect a beloved minority professor.
Don’t blame Davidson’s history and tradition. Don’t blame the administration. Don’t blame the Southern culture. Let’s see the bigger picture in that Davidson College is having growing pains, the same ones the real societies go through. What’s different is that Davidson provides the right environment (faculty, staff, intellectual rigor, and wonderful resources) and the right audience (us!) for its members to detect, diagnose, prescribe, and cure its pains.