Revolutionary movements are becoming global, making waves across institutions and industries in the country. Hitting so close to home as well, with one of our neighboring colleges at the centre of the storm. One would expect some of many the incidents so neatly swept under the rug in our college to come out too. But I had forgotten a few key things about SCMS while holding on to this optimism. Akin to the animal kingdom, social status is the priority. Who your “squad” is and how social you are is often a deciding factor in what positions you can hold in college and how far you can go. This level of influence is of course determined by how much you frequent a much-loved cafe and street-side store. One of which supports something toxic and the other that supports habits like smoking.
College culture is said to consist of “traditions and ceremonies that schools hold to build community and reinforce their values.” Oh yes, we definitely have some ‘traditions’ at SCMS that we take any chance to carry forth. Be it the infamous parties, a much sought after event where ‘gossip-based’ awards are given, and putting individuals through frat-style ‘interviews’ and initiation to join a college activity group.
When you hear stories of your fellow college-goers getting harassed-verbally, emotionally, mentally and sexually, you would hope that someone would have the courage to call out the perpetrators, who usually are part of the same “group”. There is an initial hue and cry, with attempts to keep it out of the grapevine, because their reputation is important of course. You would think that the one at fault would be condemned or ostracized from the rest, but no such luck. The point when all hope is lost though, is when you see the victim and perpetrator a few weeks later, partying together as if there was nothing wrong, to begin with.
Throughout this whole process, a lot of things in our college have been normalized, leading to a somewhat virulent environment. While you’re in it, actively a part of it, you’re not really conscious of what’s happening. But take a step back and it’s all so, so wrong. Be it ‘rating’ fellow students on the basis of their bodies, dirty politics that tend to creep in, believing that making racist jokes because you’re dark skinned too is ‘okay,' or creating a pretense that to be under the influence is the way to be ‘cool’ and have ‘fun’ at a gathering. I believed it too. I thought it was just a college norm, until I started talking to other college students from outside of SCMS. They were appalled by the students’ culture and the environment that we were in. Turns out, our idea of ‘fun’ from an outsider’s perspective wasn’t quite that. Entertainment at the cost of another’s dignity and mental health cannot be acceptable, but here it just somehow is.
If there has to be something that probably adds on to the ‘pretentious BBA kid’ label, and can be quite irksome is the hypocrisy that exists. When “woke” you put up an empathizing post to a victim of sexual harassment, and the same evening is partying at an institution where it is perpetrated, that is hypocrisy. When you preach about the virtues of fairness and merit and then give someone an opportunity not based on any rational criteria, that is hypocrisy. When you say you wish for equality, but don’t like ‘labels’ like that of a feminist, that’s (ignorance) and hypocrisy.
SCMS has a myriad of achievements due to the capabilities and aptitude of its students. They’re clever, sharp and resourceful, not necessarily academically, but in places where it counts. However, the normalization of noxious behavior, thoughts, and activities is worrisome. Once it starts to flow through you and becomes a part of your system, you don’t see what’s wrong with it and the harm that it’s causing. The time you spend at college is supposed to teach you and mould you into an individual with a personality of your own; ready to take on the world. Are these notions breeding in our college environment really something that we’d be proud to have become a part of us? Are we alright with just becoming another face in the crowd? Always ready to conform, not having the courage to speak out? Are we okay with the place we hold so close to our hearts for the 3 years spent here be filled with negativity and toxicity?