Class goes down the drain in New Brunswick
About 15 minutes past midnight last Sunday, a female student decided to relieve herself on the side of the house I share with seven of my friends while two of her male friends tore the banister off our front porch. I wasn't home when it happened, but four of my friends saw what was happening and attempted to confront the trio. Unfortunately, two of them fled before any conversation was held, and the third guy denied everything vehemently, despite the fact that my friends watched him deface our property. My friends had no way of making this third guy stay, so he split well before the police even had a chance to get there. We filed a police report, but we don't expect anything to really come of it. The New Brunswick Police Department obviously has far more important things to do than chase down three students for petty vandalism. I can't blame them for that. And even if the three hoodlums are ever made to take responsibility for their disrespectful actions, that won't change the fact that this rather depressing scenario occurred.
I don't want anyone to think I was surprised by what happened. On the contrary: After taking a few moments to think about it, I realized that I found the whole event utterly blasé. After all, this is Rutgers. Our student body is comprised of champion party animals, who often express the wondrous elation of intoxication with their fists. Thank God it was a banister on the receiving end of these individuals' euphoria and not someone's face.
What makes this whole situation depressing is not the fact that a girl mistook my house for a toilet. Nor is it the fact that two anonymous guys thought that breaking a stranger's front porch was an awesome way to pass the time. No, what breaks my heart in all of this is the realization that I was not shocked in the least. I was angry. I was frustrated. I was dejected. But I wasn't shocked.
Now, I'm forced to confront the fact that I find public urination, indecent exposure, senseless vandalism and drunken irresponsibility to be normal parts of my everyday life in New Brunswick. If something like this had happened at my parents' house in Howell, I'm certain I'd be stunned. I'd possibly even be speechless. But because it happened on the banks of the old Raritan, it makes perfect sense to me.
This sort of double standard upsets me. Shouldn't I be able to expect the same decency from people everywhere? Why do I find myself holding college students to a lower standard than everyone else on the planet? I could blame alcohol, but that would be pure laziness. It's also an overreaction. A damaged porch does not warrant an anti-alcohol crusade.
A damaged porch also doesn't warrant me chiding every student at the University. It's pretty obvious that the overwhelming majority of people who attend our University are smart, caring and sensible people. It would be downright illogical for me to blame the whole for the actions of a very select few.
But the question remains: Why do I hold college students, including myself, to a lower standard than everyone else in the world? I know that most of us are good people. I know that most of us would never engage in the kind of behavior these three did. Still, I am always prepared to be let down. The problem could be me. I could just be a bitter cynic. Or maybe we're not as mature as we like to think we are. Maybe we all know we aren't yet the adults we claim to be. The world may never know.
Matthew Kosinski is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in English and minoring in philosophy and cultural anthropology.