Controversy on a Small Campus

Sometimes the small size of Kalamazoo College’s campus is more apparent than usual. Just the other day someone remarked to me that every time they go to the cafeteria they are surprised to see a new face. “Just wait until the juniors come back,” I cautioned. With just over 1400 undergraduate students, seeing familiar faces everyday is comforting and reinforces the idea that we are a closely-knit community. Being small was one of the number one reasons why I chose K, but sometimes I can start to feel a bit claustrophobic, especially as I’m nearing the end of my time here.

While there may be no more than two degrees of separation between everyone, there are still divides and cliques and groups, which can either subtly or significantly disrupt our happy homeostasis. Over these first few weeks of winter quarter, I have been dealing with a boatload of backlash surrounding some articles printed in the Index, of which I am Editor-in-Chief. It has deeply affected those directly involved, which include many major student groups and organizations as well as individuals and my personal relationships with people who I once considered myself very close to.

The articles and their content are irrelevant, but the controversy that ensued has permeated into every crack of our red brick road. I have the luxury of living about an hour away from K and decided to go home this weekend, totally mentally, physically, and emotionally drained from the past few weeks. It is not that I want to run away from these issues, it’s that I have nowhere around K where they won’t follow me due to its small size. Even my house off campus cannot serve as a haven.

Despite all of this, I have been given a chance to reflect on the many relationships and bonds that I have formed over my time here. You may find it surprising that the most meaningful of these relationships have been with faculty and staff. I don’t know if there are many colleges in the world where the Dean emails you to request a meeting, or where your favorite professors thank you for the work that you’re doing. That means more to me than any ‘A’ I have ever received.

My advice for being recognized on a small campus? Create controversy. Just kidding. Go to office hours, be involved, earn a leadership position, introduce yourself and get acquainted with the higher-ups, and learn how the institution works from the inside in order to change it – people really respect that.