Stepping Outside the Boundaries of the Bubble / Kienna Van Dellen
As we all settle back into campus life, whether it is your first semester or 30th year teaching, most people across campus are in tune with what is titled “The MC Bubble.” The safety net of community is common among many conservative schools across the South and reaches to encapsulate different aspects of the student life to put on display. This is displayed through campus advertisements, events and the personality that the university expresses.
The welcoming culture of the MC family and finding a home on campus is an amazing mold to help shape your college experience and help you to grow in your knowledge and personal relationship with our glorious Creator. However, the intense, energized agenda can sometimes be a lot for students to take in. If you aren’t part of a club or tribe, don’t have a nametag with an MC logo or drink Cups coffee you may start to feel a little lost. We stick around people like us, around people that have the same ideas and majors, and go to the same churches. Now don’t get me wrong, all of those things are good; you do them and so do I.
The problem is that the culture of involvement fosters likeness over diversity. People who don’t fit into the MC mold and may have different interests end up feeling left out. Students who are part of smaller organizations may feel as if they aren’t involved enough simply because their position on campus is not as hyped up or honored. The diversity within students is not celebrated as it should be. While we don’t have to make a club for every kind of human being, people shouldn’t be ashamed to say they didn’t go through Recruitment or that they don’t have a tailgate tent to attend. MC should strive to create more campus-wide events to include those students who are in clubs and tribes alongside students who aren’t. This could create a stronger community across the student body.
Clubs and tribes offer an amazing community and great experience for many people; however, that may not be the perfect fit for everyone and that’s okay. Especially after the past year of limited social interaction, our social batteries are run down and we need to learn how to introduce ourselves and create small talk all over again. As some of you may be going through the Recruitment process, be gracious to yourself and others as we are reentering social environments that seem so foreign after months of isolation.
MC champions itself on giving students real work experiences in leadership and practice in their potential career paths. A way we can improve on this is by opening up our communication and expanding our reach to create more unconventional relationships. In the workforce, we come in contact with people from all areas and backgrounds of life. Something that the MC bubble may block out is the ability to receive criticism and deal with those who may not agree with us. While the campus may be a close-knit encouraging family, the outside world is oftentimes not and we need to prepare ourselves for that. We should be preparing to bring the bright and joyous environment that we see on campus out into the world.
Campus thrives on local events and keeping students on those red-brick streets. The farthest students may wander off campus is for dinner or a concert. We live, work, worship, rest, and study all within the same environment. The convenience is there, but I want to challenge you to step outside of the bubble. Try new food, find a new spot to study, explore all the rich culture and history surrounding Jackson and nearby scenic routes. Meet new people, old and young, locals and internationals, people of different religions and from different socioeconomic backgrounds, see life around you from other people’s perspectives. We are in college to learn and experience life outside of how we were raised, and only so much of that can come from a textbook. I encourage you to soak in the richness of life that may be different from the world that you have built up around yourself.