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Bursting the exclusive ‘Cobber Bubble’

emmaopinionsThe “Cobber Bubble.” We’ve all heard the phrase, and we all use it endearingly. We are happy and safe in this so-called “bubble.” But is it really a positive force in the lives of Concordia students today and in the long term?

So, what is the Cobber Bubble, exactly? It’s home to the liberals, blondes, Scandinavians, Lutherans and, most importantly, Happy Cobbers. And it’s home to professors who hold our hands from the moment we step on campus until the moment we step off. We are surrounded by like-minded individuals here at Concordia. Not only that, but we are surrounded by people of similar backgrounds, families, values and beliefs. And, for those of you who don’t fit into that mold, you can keep your mouth shut. Our bubble is selective – not necessarily in terms of intelligence (which I discussed last week), but certainly in terms of diversity. It’s not that we make an intentional effort to exclude people different from the majority of Cobbers, but, over the years, we’ve created an image for ourselves and this image tends to be upheld. That’s simply the way it goes. And, up until this year, we haven’t made an intentional effort to include people in the minority (thanks, newly formed diversity committee).

The first presidential debate took place Sept. 26, and I’m willing to bet that if you discussed this debate in any of your classes, you were blasted with Trump attacks. Now, I’m not saying that these attacks aren’t being made with plenty of motivation and solid reasoning, but what I am saying is that if you’re a Trump supporter on Concordia’s campus, the odds that you’ve shared your views with many of your peers are slim. I could probably count my Republican friends at Concordia on one hand. To be fair, this is partially because I’m a flaming liberal. But, it’s also largely due to the fact that I could probably count the number of Republicans on Concordia’s campus on my hands and feet. I would be genuinely fearful of expressing my opinion on this campus if I were a Trump supporter. That’s not how a college campus should be. A college campus should be a hub of political debate and discussion. We should be learning from our peers, not simply being agreed with by our peers. How do we build skills in rhetoric outside the classroom when all of our peers share our opinions?

Concordia students also share similar backgrounds. Look around yourself, and what do you see? Tall, blonde Scandinavians. Oh, and a heck of a lot of white people. Dig deeper, and you will soon find that you are also surrounded by Lutherans. Now, this part isn’t surprising considering we attend a Lutheran college. But, we do have one thing going for us in this department: economic diversity. We aren’t exactly outstanding in this area either, but, when you come from one of the richest suburbs of Minneapolis like I do, in terms of economic diversity, Concordia is amazing.

Finally, the Happy Cobber – it’s own monster entirely. In knowing that I could say infinite things about this subject, I will instead say just this and save the rest for another column: it is not always a great day to be a Cobber. In fact, sometimes, it’s a really shitty day to be anything at all. But don’t you dare tell anyone, because here at Concordia, we are beaming balls of high-achieving joy. And that’s that.

But, guess what? One day, we will step off of this campus for good. The professors who led the way for us, gave us extensions on our papers and planned our entire college schedules for us won’t be there to walk us step-by-step through our “big kid jobs.” There will be no rubric. There will be Republicans. There will be black people and white people, Catholics and atheists, tall people and short people and everything in between. And there will be people who don’t have everything together. Odds are, you will be one of those people at some point. One day, our bubble will burst. And one day, we will find ourselves in the “real world” with no idea of what’s coming.

So, assuming I’ve convinced you with my masterful rhetoric that we have a problem here at Concordia, you’re probably wondering how we’re supposed to solve it. How do we escape the bubble? First and foremost, we need to make Concordia a more accepting environment for all belief systems. We need to foster an environment that is conducive to learning and growing from interactions with our peers. I’m not saying we need guaranteed safe spaces at every corner of campus, but I am saying that we need to understand that in order to become responsibly engaged in the world, we need to be genuinely engaged with our peers.

Second, Concordia needs to put forth a stronger effort to diversify its campus in all aspects. Luckily for us, this is happening. We have a diversity committee that is meeting frequently to discuss how to make Concordia the melting pot it ought to be. This should have been addressed ages ago, but it’s better late than never.

Last, we need to stop pretending like we all have it figured out. We’re college students. We’re all a big ol’ mess. And that’s okay! Despite what our college’s website home page likes to portray, we are not all happy all the time. We are real people, and that’s okay.

And with that, I leave your bubble (hopefully) slightly burst, and your corn buttered.

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