The fall on campus brings a new season of factors that shape the upcoming academic year and life at Trinity. Specifically, the United States News and World Report issues its annual college rankings. Trinity has retained its spot at #46, making it the lowest of the NESCAC, tied with Connecticut College. How we react to this ranking as a community, and as a country, takes on important consequences, particularly on the heels of an in-depth feature on the Trinity admissions process published in the New York Times Magazine. Everyone aware of the systems in higher education are aware that the rankings are flawed, however, as imperfect as they may be, they factor into how families decide where to invest in an education. With this in mind, I don’t feel that my time at Trinity can be calculated into numeric data. The connections I have made, opportunities I have had, and friendships I have formed can’t be quantified. If you feel similarly about Trinity, it’s your responsibility to determine how best to give back.
On Monday, student government announced that senators for both the classes of 2022 and 2023 were running uncontested; meaning only four people ran for four open seats in each grade. No students ran for IDP representative, class of 2021 senator, or vice president of multicultural affairs, leaving eight seats on SGA completely vacated until the deadline is extended. Last year, each position on the SGA executive board, including president, vice-president, and vice-president of finance, was elected in an uncontested election, meaning that the only people who signed up to run for leadership positions were chosen In my four years at Trinity, lack of engagement on campus (except for in athletics and Greek life organizations) has been prevalent, and this has not changed in my time here. And although a lack of writers on the Tripod or uncontested SGA elections are not factors of the USNWR Best Colleges ranking system, they do clearly display a serious campus culture problem.
Paul Tough’s feature, on the front cover of the Times magazine, quotes “‘O.K., you’re not motivated, you’re doing the minimum at your high school,’ [Vice President of Enrollment and Student Success] Pérez explained, describing the students Trinity used to admit in droves.” Tough’s article seems to paint a picture of a Trinity in contrasts—the students with high or low SAT scores, those who are happy on campus and those who are “miserable,” those who identify with the “conservative TV personalities known for wearing bow ties” and those who do not. Although campus conversation often falls into these extremes, I believe this is too general of a categorization to describe an entire collegiate ecosystem.
If you read through this week’s Tripod, you’ll find stories on an armed robbery, a stagnant position on the USNWR rankings, and Greek life beer policy. As the editor of the Tripod, these stories can sometimes be painful to cover, and while I do not enjoy highlighting the more negative aspects of life on campus, it is our job to cover these events of note, both good and bad, here at the school newspaper. But keep reading and you’ll also come across stories on a student who founded Afghanistan’s second children’s library, a remarkable internship program in India, and students passionately defending their opinions on topics at Trinity and in the world (check pages 5 and 6). I came to college because I wanted, first and foremost, an enriching academic experience. Trinity has given me that and more and I will forever defend the liberal arts education. I also was looking for a college in a city, and Hartford has provided me with more opportunity and has taught me more than I ever anticipated. Tough’s article also recounts a story of support from 17 faculty members of the English department, who urged the board of trustees to ignore the USNWR rankings and embrace changes in admissions, “one of the most exciting transformations Trinity has witnessed in many years.”
In some ways, the burdens of improving Trinity fall on its students. This is best done not by complaints with the system over meals at Mather, but by signing up for engaging activities both on campus and off. Reflecting back on my own Trinity experience, my time here has been affected by frustrations and disillusionments. Ask any college student and they will say the same.
Despite all of this, though, it is the resources I have had access to and the people I have met that have instilled my strong faith in the liberal arts education, the city of Hartford, and the continuing upward trajectory of our school.