I just finished my essay for the Cap and Skull Honor Society - a Rutgers College tradition created in 1900 and modeled after the group at Yale. Being a part of a group with members such as Paul Robeson is intense. The essay question was general - about what contributions I could make, but I found it surprisingly essay to finish...
My last story for DiversityInc.com was about a diversity-training and consulting company that urges corporate America to open its eyes to the non-traditional forms of diversity within its employees. They say that by looking beyond race, gender and sexual orientation and, instead, thinking about diversity of thought and experience, companies can foster greater productivity, creativity and profitability. A lot of their ideas and "ities" relate solely to the business world, but I was amazed by the universality of many of their concepts.
Rutgers is a deeply segmented university where many students feel excluded from groups more than included in a campus-wide community. From the five different campuses to the countless cultural organizations, the segregation is omnipresent. The trick, in my opinion, is minimizing the negative consequences of this situation while maximizing the benefits of the diversity.
Cap & Skull prides itself on uniting leaders with diverse opinions in order to improve the Rutgers experience for all students. While I could list achievements and rack my brain trying to come up with spectacular reasons why I should be a part of the 100-year tradition, I think the most important reason is the most obvious: I am simply me. I’m a 20-year-old Rutgers College junior who’s interacted with a lot of students from different backgrounds and has concrete opinions about why Rutgers is a great university and why groups such as Cap & Skull must do more to improve it.
At the school’s newspaper I had the unique opportunity to try to reach out to more than 40,000 students with my words. As an editor I was a liaison between the editorial board and the community. I spoke to student leaders from different campuses, interacted with administrators such as the seemingly student-phobic Francis Lawrence and, most importantly, observed people from various walks of life. So many Rutgers students shut themselves off to other campuses and groups of people. The word apathy is overused, but it has become a buzzword for a legitimate reason. I can look back and say I’ve risen above some of that.
Nevertheless, I have regrets. But that’s not an overwhelmingly bad thing because I think our regrets become our biggest motivators. As I stress and grow increasingly anxious about entering my last year at Rutgers, I see how many of my goals remain unfulfilled. Looking back on my year as campus editor, I feel like my primary focus should have been to serve as the eyes and ears of the community for the paper. Unfortunately, I let myself succumb to the Targum trap, remaining in the office writing news stories and relying on the phone for most of my communication with student leaders. My visits to the governing associations and campus events seemed like chores at times, especially when my head was flooded with thoughts of deadlines and pending stories, but those trips were the most rewarding part of my term. Even though they were less frequent than I would have liked, they were educational – informing me about my fellow students, whose ideas and desires were often very different than my own.
As a member of Cap & Skull, my greatest attributes would be simple ones: a unique perspective and a desire to make my last year on the banks as fulfilling and productive as possible. A group of 18 students who are passionate about celebrating the history of this institution while changing its future in a positive way is a powerful concept. As cliched as it sounds, I just hope I can be a part of that.