posted on: Thursday April 22, 2010
Jayo Miko Macasaquit ’11 / Commentary Staff
In high school, I somehow developed a reputation for being a heavy smoker. In high school, this was not a bad thing: all the cool kids smoked. The funny thing is, I never smoked in high school, and never really have since. I was, however, a fan of setting things on fire, and because my Catholic-school boy uniform pockets always had holes in them, I would often drop my lighter. Apparently dropping your lighter in enough situations leads to people making assumptions about unhealthy habits you may or may not even have. Needless to say, it was my lighter-dropping that became my legacy, and despite everything I was involved in during high school, all that really stuck was that I was a heavy smoker.There are two things to take away from this above anecdote: that the smallest aspect of your life, be it a moment or a trait, can become definitive of who you are, and that people can make outrageous assumptions about you with misunderstood or little evidence. For example, I could make a satirical piece on what I feel are the most important aspects of gay rights, and because people either don’t read satire very well or read a couple of lines without grasping the overall satirical nature of the piece, I become a homophobic bigot. This is a perfect example, as it highlights the fact that people are willing to make judgments about me without realizing that I, for instance, am one of the most outspoken people on campus on the topic of marriage equality and gay rights.In college, how one leaves a legacy is no different. With the many people you may come across in a single day, the legacy you leave behind is boiled down to small moments, or glimpses you leave for other people to interpret. And, like my lighter-dropping, people are free to make bold assumptions from little evidence. Your incessant littering, no matter how accidental, becomes your legacy of environmental carelessness. No one cares to know that you’re a member of the environmental club with the unfortunate habit of missing trashcans. Likewise, your propensity to wear flowers in your hair becomes your legacy of being “that girl who has flowers in her hair.” It’s not a fashion statement as you see it: people will take what they want and you will take what they give you. With this in mind, I propose a momentous cram-session for the class of 2010. Before the school year ends, you have about 10 days, and within these 10 days, are thousands of opportunities: a thousand little moments with around 3000 non-graduating students. These 10 days are 10 days worth of legacies waiting to happen. You can waste away in the excuse of Senioritis, drifting off into non-existence: no rising upperclassmen will have reason to remember you next year, because their final moments with you were in the context of indifference. Or, you could break the pattern of drift, and make the best of these thousand little moments with your 3000 non-graduating schoolmates.In the final weeks of the 2008-2009 school-year, a graduating senior I know and respect was instrumental in leading 300 students to non-verbally speak out against Tom Tancredo. It was because of her determination and leadership abilities that the protest succeeded. She could have easily let the moment pass, and simply allowed the year to end. She could have easily called it a day, making do with her already tremendous past efforts. She chose against the stream of Senioritis, however, and arguably chose wisely. Her small moment with over 300 protesters defined and summarized her efforts at Providence College and this, despite everything, became her legacy.A moment of reflection is therefore in order for the class of 2010. It is clearly possible to leave your mark in Providence College history with the small amount of time you have left. Forget anything you’ve done before these final days — good or bad —whatever you leave us in the next ten days is what we’re going to work with. I’m not asking for revolutionary actions, or a thousand giant protests for a thousand different causes. Nor am I asking for a drastic change in behavior; the best part of leaving a legacy is that your identity is evident in what you leave behind. I am merely challenging the graduating class to hold off on graduating until you actually graduate. Ten days. A thousand moments. Three thousand rising upperclassmen. Go.