By Aaron Calvin
Today is the last day of my undergraduate education. It feels a little weird because it doesn’t feel that different at all. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this place. Most of the time, I consider this university to be an obstacle, a collective of bureaucratic offices attempting to justify their own existence and suck as much money as possible out of anything that moves. The problems I have with Hofstra are probably problems that afflict a lot of institutions of higher learning.
All I can say is that I’ve known a couple of absolutely dedicated and passionate professors during my time here. In the revolving cast of people I’ve known and then lost again, there are a few that I still truly love and value. Beyond all that, though, is the most important thing I found here at Hofstra: a creative community.
When I first got here in 2010, The Hofstra Chronicle quickly became my surrogate home. I met people there my freshman year that have become my closest friends. The group of people I met in the Chronicle and in "Nonsense," the campus humor magazine, helped me to find a place at this university, something that I cannot stress the importance of enough.
The clubs are, unfortunately, not a place for that any longer. The great thing about places like "The Chronicle" was that, even though it was never perfect, – often very far from that – it was a place where you were allowed to learn through making your own mistakes. Since then, "The Chronicle" has become entirely unrecognizable to me in its dullness. The puritanical OSLA and SGA and their governance of forced attrition have systematically worn "Nonsense" away along with any other club that doesn’t fit their vision of Hofstra as a dry and wholesome community. The places that used to be bastions for people who wanted something beyond the all-consuming culture of Hofstra – its bars, its terrible parties – have all but disappeared.
But the situation is never hopeless. My junior year, a friend of mine spearheaded the converting of an off-campus garage into a DIY space for shows and parties. I played a lot of shows in that garage along with The Tallboys, a folk-punk band constituted of alumni, along with a host of other friends and bands. By the time the owner of that garage graduated and moved on, I felt again like I was a part of a creative community.
During a time when you’re supposedly attempting to figure out what you’re about and what you have to say, nothing is more important than surrounding yourself with people who have desires and goals similar to yours. You need a group of people who will sit and listen to you. But the most important need that a community like this meets is that of criticism. You need people to sit down and tell you that what you’re doing is bad or that what you’re doing could be better. It’s something that, in its strict culture of inclusiveness and positivity, is difficult to find within the gates of Hofstra. It’s difficult to tell your friends that their writing is bad, that their artwork could be so much better, but it’s something that absolutely needs to be done in order for people to grow. I wish more people would’ve been more critical of me, and there are people who I’ve failed along the way by not being more critical of them.
Finding a group of people that help make attending this school bearable is important, and I owe the people I’ve known and loved here so much more than I could ever give them. It’s not necessarily an easy thing to find, but when you can’t find it, you’ve got to make it yourself. It’s important to listen, but more important to be honest. That’s all I’ve got to say about it.