Before I delve into madness, I want to make a few things clear. I am very satisfied with my major, I like most of the professors and classes I have had, and this is not a critique about how the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS) is managed. With that being said, as the title of this column suggests, I hate being a CHASS student for several reasons.
I am an English major, which also means I am a humanities student. What that entails is I have to analyze certain aspects of society, which means I have to look at the good and the bad. Unfortunately, I am constantly analyzing the bad parts of society. My classes do analyze humanity’s achievements, but they mostly focus on society’s faults.
I learned about systemic racism in my sociology class, I learned about the strained relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States in my Spanish classes, and I learned how depraved the human mind can become in my literature classes. As such, I am constantly aware of what’s happening around me. Unfortunately, Time magazine reports watching too much negative news can be detrimental to my health. And since I am constantly relating what I learned in class to what is happening in the world, I can’t just turn off the TV.
Plus, CHASS majors are the kings and queens of critical analysis. We are constantly asking if this source is factual, what biases might be at play, any deep motives behind someone’s actions or law, etc. I see this as both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing in that we can provide unique perspectives on certain issues most people wouldn’t think of. However, it’s a curse in that it can take away the joy you previously had in certain things.
For example, a lot of people idolize Elon Musk and talk about how eccentric, smart and charismatic he is. Then there’s me, bringing up how he is anti-union and denies his employees 401(k) plans. Or if someone is eating a Hershey’s chocolate bar, and I casually tell them the company uses child labor to get their cocoa beans.
As expected, this type of thinking has made me a little pensive, a part of nihilism that is present in most humanities students. I am aware that some of my actions might contribute to a system of oppression. Like, throwing a piece of trash away contributes to toxic waste near many Indigenous American reservations.
A lot of us think of ourselves as the heroes of our own stories, generally good people. But when you are aware that one small action can lead to huge, detrimental consequences towards a particular group of people, it’s not good for your mental state.
Plus, it doesn’t help when the most powerful people of society refuse to listen to experts within their respective fields. I am tired of politicians refusing to listen to scientists about climate change or COVID-19 because some hedge fund-managing troglodyte thinks they know more about the issue and refuses to change their business practices. I am tired of explaining how systemic racism exists or why certain identities are valid using credible and unbiased resources, but then some person cites their feelings or an out-of-context Bible verse to justify discrimination. I just can’t deal with these people sometimes.
If this column seems negative, well it is. Being a CHASS student is mentally exhausting. I am not saying that we have it worse than other students in different colleges. It’s just tiring to be aware of society’s faults, and people refusing to consider certain solutions or deny the problem exists altogether.
Despite all of this, I am thankful for being a CHASS student. I would rather live in a world where we have to face the harsh truth than live in blissful ignorance. Just because a problem is ignored doesn’t mean it’s not happening. I want issues to be addressed before it’s too late. And since I’m an English major, I could use certain language and rhetorical strategies to make people care about certain issues.
Regardless, I will make sure people hear my opinions, even if they didn’t ask. Just like most college students, I want to make the world a better place. If I am going to get an English degree, I will use it to its fullest extent, and maybe enrage a few people here and there. I mean, why else would I write for the opinion section?