We’re Better Than This

Wednesday was supposed to be a wonderful day. It was a day when we Seniors celebrated our acceptances.It was a day when our presidential candidates showed what they were made of. It was a day when the entire student body showed our guests (Spring visitors) our best. Instead, we showed just how inconsiderate we have been and continue to be. When Paresky Commons’ fire alarm went off early Wednesday afternoon, the students and everyone else in the building evacuated the facility as procedure dictates. Yet, as a result, we turned Commons, our newly renovated wonderland, into a pigsty. After a stampede of people pushed their way into Commons, only a few of those people had the sense, civility, courtesy, respectfulness, good manners to pick-up the trash they had left! Five to 10 minutes after this stampede, I sat in Ropes meeting with Alianza Latina and, directly after the meetings, I went to the upper right dining hall. As I looked around, I saw the disgusting mess that Andover students had left. Napkins, plates full of food, cups filled with water/soda/juice and silverware covered every table. Is this how we treat the people who have been making Commons perfect–let, me repeat–perfect, for us? Commons workers have been–and I have observed them–running around Commons these past two days. They’ve been picking up every little piece of paper or trash on tables and counters, cleaning up small and big spills, smiling at us, serving us food, asking us how we are doing, offering their friendships and caring after us. We are repaying their generosity by leaving them to clean our trash. They are not our servants. Let me repeat that: they are not our servants. They are there to assist us. It was so absolutely ridiculous and appalling that it was we, members of the Alianza Latina and African Student Union boards, who had the sense and courtesy to pick up this trash so that the Commons workers, our friends, did not have to be exploited in such a way. I have seen the behavior of Andover students for the past year at Uncommons, and now Commons, so I guess that I shouldn’t have been surprised by this event. But I had faith in our student body, faith that we are conscientious, logical and caring human beings. In fact, I know that we are good people. I’m just embarrassed for us. And, even though I went back an hour later into the pigsty—I mean our newly renovated wonderland (for the Commons workers had already cleaned it up)—to apologize to the Commons workers for our behavior, I am still ashamed. Come on, people. Let’s show some respect and dignity. Elizabeth Patino is four-year Senior from Lawrence, Massachusetts. She is President of Alianza Latina.