By Zack Johnson
It is incredibly easy, and perhaps preferential because of the ease, to settle within one’s own comfortably established social bubble — whether that bubble be established through geographical, socioeconomic, educational, or any one of the very many other human classifications of socialization — and live within a system of unchallenged ideas or new perspectives. Without ever questioning what lies beyond the *POP* of one’s social bubble, one lacks a true understanding of the opportunities and insight that surrounds them.
At Lewis & Clark, the somewhat secluded geographical location, particularized–though not hegemonic–progressive tendencies, and widespread undergraduate inability to efficiently navigate to most of the Portland metropolitan area has resulted in a unique social and cultural bubble on campus. Though Portland is mere miles away, it can sometimes seem as though it exists upon an entirely different planet.
So too, and unfortunately, do the fellow universities throughout the city.
One would think that our school might share a tighter relationship with Portland State, especially since our Pio buses ironically load and unload—when not broken down, that is—upon their campus throughout the day. Our sister school in progressivism, Reed College, excels in the humanities and currently maintains the only undergraduate-run nuclear reactor in the world. The University of Portland’s master’s programs have produced the most Fulbright scholars in the entire nation. Lewis & Clark’s nationally-renowned environmental undergraduate programs reflect its consciously aware student body. Where one college falters, another achieves unbridled success, but does so individually.
Each of the aforementioned universities possesses certain attributes entirely unique to their respective campuses, and acknowledging the distinctive role each university plays within the broader Portland community is vital. Though competition between universities is healthy and should be encouraged, that does not mean a simultaneously respectful and mutually beneficial relationship cannot also occur.
In order to achieve the most from one’s time at Lewis & Clark, one must venture to the surrounding universities and explore the vast opportunities available. Conceivably even more helpful, the linking of student governments, extracurricular organizations, and educational and administrative departments between universities could result in endless opportunities for everyone involved. The effort required in uniting such unique colleges may indeed be difficult, but certainly not impossible.
And though controversy has indeed muddied relationships between particular colleges, reconciliation and reopened dialogue is crucial. To move beyond drastic errors of the past, we must share understanding, thoughtful, and direct conversation. This, in turn, will further expand the opportunities for college students within the area, and will *POP* the social bubbles many students are restricted within, producing uninhibited academic and personal growth as a result.
I encourage students, student unions, administration, and faculty to seek out their fellow local collegiate allies, however and wherever they may be.