At Occidental, students are held accountable for their actions because of the close-knit community of friends and peers. Every misstep in the Marketplace, act of drunken buffoonery or careless statement is witnessed, recorded and dissected. Students at Occidental take each other seriously and make sure that unfair or offensive actions result in consequences. We comment on every careless Facebook post and meticulously browse Oxy Confessions to take students — anonymous or named — to task on their perceived wrongdoings.
The prying examination that students face throughout their four years has its downsides — private conflicts often become public spectacle. Because of our small community, students’ actions, large and small, are evaluated and seriously considered. Yet this atmosphere of judgment, however personally taxing, ensures that students think before they speak or act. Considering how strongly our words can affect others, thoughtfulness is a good habit to develop. Over summer break and after graduation, students may not feel the same pressure to assess every action through a self-critical lens. They should anyway.
This year, students took to the Arthur G. Coons Administrative Center (AGC) to protest racial injustice and present a list of demands to the administration; students voted to support the funding of the Diversity and Equity Board (DEB); Campus Safety held its first community meeting (after three years of pressure) to discuss student demands; the administration published a revised sexual assault policy. All of these new developments were able to happen, in part, because of our drive to voice our concerns and criticize what we find unjust. With this confidence, we hold the administration, the faculty and our peers to a high standard.
Even though, once outside of the Occidental bubble, graduates will not face the same level of peer evaluation because they will likely not be in as small of a community, they should still act as though they face constant appraisal. Whether or not students receive constant commentary in the future, their actions will continue to have an impact on individuals and the communities they are a part of, for better or for worse.
Our time at Occidental offers the opportunity to learn many social skills and take to heart innumerable lessons in how to most effectively communicate with one another. Interlaced with our knowledge gained in the classroom, the spectre of community accountability looms large. It should not be a menacing shadow. Rather, accountability should be a constant reminder to do and be our best.
This editorial represents the collective opinion of The Occidental Weekly editorial board. Each week, the editorial board will publish its viewpoint on a matter relevant to the Occidental Community.