by Kerry Torpey ’20
This semester, I decided to take Introduction to Sociology with Dr. Eve Veliz-Moran as one of my free electives. The course aims to educate students on how the elements of our society “shape who we are.” By the end of the semester, students will have engaged with topics such as culture, race, and socioeconomic inequality.
One reading that the class recently discussed is called, “Teenage Wasteland: Suburbia’s Dead-End Kids” by Donna Gaines. In 1987, a group of four friends from Bergenfield, New Jersey died from carbon monoxide poisoning after making a suicide pact.
Even after their deaths, townspeople referred to them as “burnouts” or “dropouts” because they did not necessarily fit into the “spaces” their town offered them. They “felt unloved, unwanted, devalued, disregarded, and discarded.” Gaines describes this as “a tragic defeat for young people,” as these high school students experienced a societal neglect so great that they became disengaged from the world around them—this disengagement can best be described as “anomie.”
In class, we talked about how numb and disconnected these students must have felt to think that they truly had nothing more to lose. Something that I really took away from this reading, however, was that a situation like this can happen anywhere where people are made to feel like outsiders.
Providence College has a very active social community that has members from across the country and around the world. Therefore, it is important for our community to continuously remember to check in on one another—to make sure that everyone feels a sense of care, love, and value.
PC has resources like the Personal Counseling Center, which welcomes students with open arms and trustworthy ears. If we are to continue being a “Friar Family,” we must regularly remind ourselves to check in, encourage one another, and lift our community up, no matter our differences.