Wake Forest students must engage beyond the classroom
Old Gold & Black
Guest Columnist
Friday, November 10, 2017

My first few months at Wake Forest have been fun, engaging and fulfilling overall.

Wake Forest students have impressed me with their work ethic, pride for their school and friendliness. The culture of Wake Forest is indeed a special one, and one I can already tell it is quite unique, especially compared to our peer schools.

Yet, I would be remiss to mention something at Wake Forest I have found extremely problematic so far. For a top 30 university, we seem to struggle a great deal with bringing our intellect outside the classroom.

Now, this is not to make a universal and objective indictment of how our students behave because clearly as a first semester student at Wake Forest, I lack all qualifications to do that.

However, what I have found is that students here are, as one might expect, in possession of formidable intellect. Wake  Forest would not be such a competitive school to get into and retain such brilliant faculty unless there was an institutional focus on attracting the best and brightest young minds from all over the world. Yet, despite having such critical thinking abilities, people flinch and hesitate at bringing important conversations outside of the classroom.

Students appear to be far more content with discussing which fraternity event one might attend later that day and the latest campus hear say, than current events, their world views or even their classes outside of the complaint that they have copious amounts of homework.

Wake Forest does not get a reputation for being a school where hard work is a necessary prerequisite for success without any facts to support it.

This is absolutely true, evidenced by the grit many of our students show. Also it is indicated by how ZSR is always open well into the early hours of the morning on week days. If we as students put equal parts effort into getting to know each other as intellectuals as we do into finishing our term papers, I could say without a doubt that many of the problems that plague our campus would not exist.

My conclusion that we prefer to act anti-intellectual is one that I do not come to lightly. Critics might argue that as a first-year, I simply have not been ‘looking for the right communities’ to think critically.

I would argue that at a school with as many brilliant students as Wake Forest, one should not need to look any further to their left or right to find the community necessary to be introspective and learn deeply from one another.

Indeed, I have sought out groups on campus that care deeply about the disinterested pursuit of truth, but what I have found — and there is consensus from various faculty members on this — is that students in a quintessentially Wake Forest fashion, have an unspoken intuition to avoid engagement with people they differ from, hiding their hesitation with proper manners and a mask of polite indifference.

As an editor on the Wake Forest Review, I am disappointed in the amounts of derision that our publication receives from left-leaning groups on campus. I have attended Wake Forest for less than three months, and the amount of vitriol from groups on campus that oppose the Review has been somewhat jarring to me.

The Review’s purpose ought to be an invitation for discourse with people that disagree with our views, so that we can come to a common understanding, or at the very least, respectful disagreement.

Instead, because Wake Forest students are immersed in a culture where there is an amorphous and far-reaching fear of bringing important discussions outside the classroom, all that we receive is disdain.

The Review is case-in-point of my argument — students have the intelligence, vocabulary and spirit to debate political matters, but hesitate to have important conversations, which is a function of the culture on campus.