A call for freedom (sort of)

| Staff Columnist

When Mel Gibson so impressively screamed for freedom at the end of “Braveheart,” it was stirring. When the United States freed itself from the claws of George III, we became a nation. When you are freed from the oppression of Washington University midterms, it is exhilarating. Freedom, therefore, of all shapes and sizes, appears to be a good thing. The word “thing” is used because if I chose to define freedom with a less generic and obtuse word, we would be led into metaphysical discussions on the theoretical nature of such a state of being, and clearly no one wants to be led down such a dark and scary path.

Anyway, what I’m trying to get at here is that if freedom is so obviously beneficial (Mel Gibson movies never lie), why do I feel like students at this university are not granted as much freedom as we deserve? Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems as though Wash. U. students rarely get the benefit of the doubt. This idea has been stewing in my brain for quite a while, and Eliza Adelson’s article on the alleged WUPD profiling certainly brought up an aspect of what I am talking about.

Colleges are historically liberal environments. Now, by no means am I suggesting a ’60s-esque return to overt public nudity and hallucinogen abuse. I simply feel that we, as students, are fairly monitored for people who are not only supposed to be treated like adults, but also “the future leaders” of this great country.

I happen to know a student who was stopped and questioned by a University City police officer simply for walking home too late. If this does not imply some sort of assumed guilt, or some belief that we as college students are degenerate thugs, then call me Mariah Carey, and I assure you, I am not Mariah Carey. I understand that our school has an extremely tenuous relationship with the off-campus community at the moment, but is this sort of hawkish patrol really necessary? I would suspect that pretty much all of our students are intelligent and good people, given that we were admitted to this university in the first place.

Humans as a species are fallible. We make mistakes, and this is not, in our particular case, just because we are young or in college. People make stupid decisions all the time. I understand that the school prides itself on its reputation and on its academics, and those are fantastic qualities—after all, they drew me to this school in the first place. However, as a result of the image that we have to uphold, I sometimes feel that the undergraduate student body is under a constant spotlight.

Simply because a student is able to excel both in academics and in extracurriculars does not mean that he or she is flawless. Nor is that person an incorrigible, disgusting creature. There is a delicate balance, and I sometimes feel that our administration expects a little too much out of us. If we make a mistake, it’s part of life. There doesn’t always have to be a slew of judicial processes to make us realize we were wrong. A little trust between the administration and the student body would go a long way. I hope this article doesn’t get me suspended.

Signing off,
The paranoid columnist

P.S. Big Brother is always watching.

Charlie is a sophomore in Arts & Sciences. He can be reached via e-mail at chlow@artsci.wustl.edu.