Graphic by Nate Barton
A few weeks prior to graduation, nostalgic self-reflection has brutally ousted all work ethic. One productive outcome of my slight emotional instability — besides making academic stress seem comparatively small — is that it’s made me think back on my time at Pepperdine critically. I think more about the words I’ve said and heard over the years. And, despite myself, I cringe at how much time I’ve spent on this campus complaining about it.
For a lot of Pepperdine students, the words “$67,000 a year” are like a trigger phrase. Sometimes we use it to justify poor behavior, or to complain when needs aren’t met. But the phrase’s ubiquity signifies a systemic mentality on campus, and it becomes a problem when the line blurs between high expectations and entitlement.
Many expectations are important: We expect to get into the classes that we need, we expect accountability of faculty, and we expect diversity and inclusion on campus. And then there’s the fringe benefits of being Pepperdine students — the social perks, the free campus events, the sushi — and we expect these things, too. The tricky part is striking a healthy balance between holding Pepperdine to high standards and merely aggrandizing problems out of the University’s control.
To an extent, a school is just a school. Pepperdine can’t be responsible for filling every emotional, social or spiritual void. So when we say things like “Pepperdine students are fake” or “the dating culture sucks” — which we’ve all heard a thousand times — we blame-shift our personal experiences to somehow be the University’s fault. This, however, keeps us from challenging ourselves to better things on our own.
Whether or not you’re graduating this spring, we all have a limited time on this campus and a limited number of battles to get behind. We can’t demand to be taken seriously if our demands aren’t serious. So at what point do we take Pepperdine for what it is — a University, not a fairy godmother — and make our experience our own?
Follow Julia Naman on Twitter @julianamanmusic