Pangs for the memories: one student reminisces
They say the years spent at college are some of the best in life. For me, true happiness cannot be measured with grade point averages, exam scores, or starting salaries. True success is better measured by the quality of your friends, the lessons you learned, and the number of laugh wrinkles you see in the mirror. If the crow?s feet around my eyes are any indication, then, this has been a damn good four years.
When it comes to the lessons learned, I count myself as one of the lucky ones. Charmed, you might say.
But it wasn?t fun to be at the center of a scandal, especially one I let happen. Those torturous two weeks last spring left indelible marks which will stay imprinted on my character forever.
The ?Natrat? taught me more about how people think and feel than any class or sensitivity training could have. Was it wrong to publish it? Yes. Was it misinterpreted? Yes. Do I think anyone at The Tartan was or is a racist? Absolutely not.
While I apologized to those tortured and torn by what laid on those pages, I found something of my own to say to those who called for my resignation and expulsion. I said the cartoon should not offend you because you?re black or Hispanic and I should not be ashamed of myself because I?m a Hispanic and should ?know? better. The disregard for human life expressed in that comic were offensive on a far more fundamental level than race. I don?t see how it makes sense for someone to be more or less offended because they are of a certain race; our membership of humanity should offer all of us the appropriate level of offense. Those at the Fence who chided me should have paused and thought before applying a preconception of a shared experience to someone merely because of their race. The willful failure to do so is a form of ignorance.
On my part, failing to continue a personal exploration of the issue of race and class would be a form of ignorance too. It?s hard to put words to the lessons of the ?Natrat,? but one is very clear to me: I?m less afraid to confront the issue of race. Whether it be in my day-to-day conversations or in what I offer to the public through my journalism, I am better for having made that mistake.
I don?t care if people remember me for the ?Natrat,? but I do want them to have a clear idea of what I?m trying to do now: learning to tell the truth.
Some think the truth, whether it?s public or personal, is something ugly and unattainable, pie in the sky and not worth the trouble of figuring out. One lesson I?ve learned is that it tends to hide in the shadowed corners of the world. If you?re smart, you?ll be able to lure it into the light with choice words and a dogged curiosity. But sometimes you find yourself venturing into the darkness to get it, tainted in the process. I may have emerged from the trip a little tainted, but better for the experience.
To me, having that bit of truth, whether it is public or personal, is worth the search. In the pages of the school newspaper, I found the courage to choose to look for it as a journalist. I don?t have enough space left to do my feelings justice in print.
When I came here as a first-year, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, I had no idea that the lecture hall and computer cluster would be the last places I would find my education.
Three hundred and sixty-five units later, I?ll be graduating with a degree in electrical and computer engineering, but I will always consider my real education to have been gained on the third floor of the University Center, home to the student organizations and some of my best friends.
My curriculum looked something like this:
UC-106 Drama for Non-Majors with Andrew Moore. Andrew, you were a welcome surprise as a friend, and a good man. Our far-flung conversations have changed the way I thought about drama majors and expanded my view of the world. Thank you.
UC-418 Contemporary Activism with Dan Papasian and Matt Toups, two of my favorite anti-establishment rabble-rousers. You showed me there?s nothing wrong with thinking outside the ideological box.
UC-314 Collegiate Journalism with The Tartan?s editorial staff. It was never boring. Thanks for making the paper possible. I wish everyone the best.
UC-576 Technology & Culture with Mark Egerman. The right man at the right time for The Tartan, Mark made the power of combining cultural awareness and technology clear to me like no one else has. You have a gift for making the profound simple and easy to understand.
UC-243 Organizational Politics with Michelle Birchak, Nicholas Scocozzo, and Steve Kling. My pipelines to student government and so much more, they have given me a crisp understanding of what it?s like behind the scenes of student government.
I?m off to make my mark on the world. Wish me luck.
Alexander Meseguer (firstname.lastname@example.org) is moving to a new e-mail address in light of his impending graduation. He hopes his words and photographs will leave the world a slightly better place.