I am reluctant to respond to Avi Raina’s columns as I am still convinced that there is no “Avi Raina” and his column is just a Psych experiment intended to observe how a community responds to an uninformed, narrow-minded opinion dictated to a mass audience. However, after becoming more familiar with the code of ethics involved in experimentation, I’ve decided that no scientist could legally submit his experimentees to such cruel and unusual punishment as this article.
First, we are treated to a delightful piece on how bad athletes are because they throw parties and make friends through shared sports instead of some mandated list that apparently Raina feels he should be on. Next we get to hear how he thinks there is too much drinking on campus. Being a junior, I couldn’t wait to see what first-year student Avi Raina would tell me what I was doing wrong with my Winter Study. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed.
The article is right in some aspect: Winter Study is indeed about exploring new disciplines, acquiring lifelong skills, and engaging one’s self in non-traditional areas of study.
However, not every discipline one undertakes must be one that can be put on a resume or requires being in the library. What if one’s goal is to know everyone in their entry? Or even the whole Freshman Quad? That’s ambitious, but probably not studious or anti-social enough for Raina.
As for skills, humans have something called “social skills,” which means they interact with each other instead of complaining that other people are having fun. When I was a freshman,
Winter Study gave me the opportunity to develop friendships and social circles.
Was that a wasted semester? Being personable and social is every bit as important as being smart in the real world, and a heck of a lot more important than the ability to sit back and criticize others.
Winter Study also gives students the chance not to worry about classes or grades and just relax and deal with personal issues or, God forbid, have fun.
From his bitterness, it sounds like a fun party is an area of study that Raina hasn’t explored at Williams yet. I encourage him to listen to his own message in this regard. Most responses I’ve heard about the article center around the fact that Raina is a freshman, hasn’t really experienced college life yet, and is being very narrow-minded.
It’s a fact that this Winter Study was the quietest since I’ve been here, with the fewest registered parties (Yet he wouldn’t know that, would he?). However, my problem isn’t with his clear lack of a grasp on the whole picture.
For me, it doesn’t matter whether he has been through one Winter Study or fifty.
Instead I resent the fact that he is judging the activities of Williams students and deeming them a waste of time. I also resent the fact that that the article takes his view and tries to play it off as reality, as if his observations are fact.
But most disturbingly, he has taken his interests, such as volunteer work and lectures, and has chided the student body for not pursuing them with the same zeal he does.
Colleges teach people to think for themselves and to respect that others may not hold the same. Perhaps failure to realize that is the “You’re-new-here” problem arising again. If anyone is miserable about their experiences in college during their first year, they should cry to their families, not attack the students of Williams College. And please, use a phone in the future, not the pages of the Record.
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