Life At Ripon – Clarence Sanon ’15
Chapter 2: Open Thine Third Eye
[Editor’s Note: Clarence Sanon ’15, Rachel Detrie ’15, and Kaitlyn Welzen ’15 are writing rotating monthly entries for the Ripon College Newsletter chronicling their senior year experiences. We hope you enjoy their perspectives on Life At Ripon!]
Do you know what grinds my gears? Individuals who do not have a clue about what is happening beyond their personal bubbles. In a world where there are multiple and easily accessible tools for educating one’s self and others, there should be no reason why people are ignorant to established facts about the world.
However, we still have ignorant people. An individual approached me recently and asked, “Is there really racism in the world and on this campus?” Trust me, I had the same response you did. Then, I took a step back and attempted to rationalize why a person would ask such a profound question. I thought, “Hey, maybe they were sheltered as a child and did not meet many minorities. Maybe, they were not allowed to watch television.” Later, it occurred to me that those possibilities have to be false in order for me to believe in the world. Then it struck me that some people have been so protected from the realities of the world that they have never had this conversation before and do not recognize racism when they see it. For example, it is wrong to call out a student of color or a person of the LGBTQ community to speak on behalf of the group with which they identify, even if it is for educational purposes (unless you ask them beforehand and they agree).
So, what is the job of a college like ours? At a liberal arts college, one expects that experiencing numerous methods of acquiring knowledge (i.e. scientific, analytical, observatory, critical methods, and others) would lead students and faculty to a place of potential enlightenment, but that enlightenment needs to extend outside of the classroom.
Think back on your education here. What did you learn, really learn? I am pretty sure what people retain is not only the hour long lectures from their freshman year professors; rather it is the life lessons that accompanied these orations. The hour long sessions you do remember are the conversations had at the bar with friends that did not grow up in the same environment as you, didn’t share your same political views and frankly, didn’t always look like you. It was expanding your world view, experiencing differences, and seeing the world in a new light. It was having those tough conversations that might not always end in everyone smiling.
We need to support this type of learning environment. It is why I participated in Ripon’s #RespectfulDifference campaign. One would think if there was something wrong with a new car, the individual would go to the dealership and demand that it be fixed. The same goes for a phone or any material good. So, why should we not treat something immaterial, like a social environment, the same way? If these conversations don’t happen, neither will change.
Through it all, the semester has been hectic. Between being an advocate for change on campus, being a student, and applying to graduate school, time seems to be a rare and desired commodity. Not to mention that the Communication Department was recently named the top undergraduate program in the nation (talk about pressure). This environment has challenged me. Like they say in New York, “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere.” The third eye is difficult to attain and as I continue to open my mind, the world becomes a more complicated place; however, I prefer these complications to ignorance.
Till the moon rises again,
Clarence Sanon ’15