The Carrier’s editorial opinion represents the views of the senior members of the Campus Carrier and Viking Fusions’ news staff.
|PHOTO COURTESY OF PUBLIC RELATIONS|
From the time a person enters Berry, whether as a freshman or transfer student, they are introduced to the omnipresent idea of the “Berry Bubble.”
Many people believe the bubble creates a false sense of security, some disregard it altogether as myth, yet living in a gated community does distance from the Berry students from the Rome community.
Is a gated-community mentality valuable to Berry students? Is there truth to the idea of the “bubble,” and if so, does it perpetuate socio-economic and other differences between Berry and its surrounding community?
We believe the physical distance between Berry and Rome as well as certain college practices can negatively impact students.
Most Berry students will live on campus for all four years of their college career, unlike students at other colleges and universities. This is not due to any students’ inability to find off-campus housing, but rather a strict policy that requires Berry students to live on campus until their senior year, and only then can they apply and try to live off campus for their final year.
This, in addition to being required to have some sort of meal plan, regardless of having a kitchen or living off campus, coddles students in a way that benefits the institution financially more than it benefits students. Many students who pay for the groceries for their meals are still required to have expensive meal plans, whether or not they use them. This places unnecessary financial burden on many students.
Living off campus while attending college is often the first step into adult responsibilities like managing money, keeping a household and additional time management, such as balancing the commute to classes or a job. It also provides upperclassman students a transition between their college careers and post-graduate life.
Likewise, student-work positions exist in a low-risk environment. So low-risk that while they may build up a resume, they may not reflect legitimate job experience. Students are guaranteed a job without first making contact with their employer.
Besides being detrimental to Berry students in terms of responsibilities and finances, we also believe that living in a “gated community” distorts the views of diverse communities in the outside world. According to the U.S. Census, people of color make up almost 40% of Floyd County, yet they make up only about 18% of Berry’s population, according to College Data.
Berry is a mostly self-sustaining community that offers many students benefits in terms of job security and safety. While this is a great opportunity that many college students don’t receive, it distances Berry students, especially upperclassmen, from participating more in the Rome community.
Although Berry is a gated community, the white fences surrounding main campus are not the problem we face as a college. We need to prioritize engagement with the Rome community, because it is ours too. We need to make connections between Berry students and Rome citizens, and break down the wall of privilege between the college and the outer community in order to make our students “Life Ready.”