Campus bubble contradicts Occidental’s values

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Tens of thousands of people gather every other Saturday in downtown L.A. for a free, self-guided tour of art galleries. Governor Jerry Brown signed a slew of hugely progressive bills last week, including one that will allow illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses and another allowing children to have more than two legal parents. The United States government has been shut down for the past week.

Occidental students have most likely only heard of this last occurrence, although it is easy to ignore even this as life goes on interrupted in the two-square-miles of manicured lawns and meaningless meal plan currency on the college’s pristine private school campus. Occidental prides itself in being on the front of progressive movements and creating smart, engaged and global students. However, the student body’s pitiful lack of interaction with the outside world contradicts this goal.

Students who have taken field trips to local art galleries, museums, tide pools or geological sites can testify that these excursions that apply learning outside of the classroom in the Los Angeles area prove to be some of the most memorable and engaging experiences at Occidental. Although regrettable, it is understandable that many teachers do not have time to incorporate off-campus trips into their syllabi. However, professors must make an effort to integrate local and national issues into curriculum to give their students a far richer education. And students must also bear the responsibility of learning in the surrounding environment.

This is not a call to divert class time away from serious work. In fact, incorporating current events into classes does not mean taking a vacation from the course; such studies can demand equally rigorous assignments, lectures and discussion and spark scholarly analysis. Students must be made to look up from their textbooks every once in a while and realize that history is happening right around them.

In addition, students should take advantage of living in a cultural mecca through the explorational opportunities offered by Residential Education, the Office of Community Engagement and the Office of Student Life. Students can even get credit for this by participating in five off-campus “cultural encounters” and writing one two-page essay on it in CSP 99, “Exploring Los Angeles Cultures.”

Eagle Rock has been home to Occidental for over 100 years, but many students graduate and move away from Eagle Rock without ever engaging with this vibrant, diverse community or learning about its history. The school’s website reads, “the mission of Occidental College is to provide a gifted and diverse group of students with a total educational experience of the highest quality – one that prepares them for leadership in an increasingly complex, interdependent and pluralistic world.” Until students and faculty burst the “Oxy Bubble,” this mission will go unfulfilled.

This editorial represents the collective opinion of the Occidental Weekly Editorial Board. Each week, the Editorial Board will publish its viewpoint on a matter relevant to the Occidental community.

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