By Elizabeth Hood
When Bryn Mawr College was first established, it prided itself in molding girls into refined women. They were independent, smart, and sophisticated. They may have worn bloomers, but they had balls of steel. They could quote Aristotle just as well as they could Emily Post.
Now, in the 21st century, the school is similar in appearance to its early self (of course, the eyesores that are Haffner and Erdman were not there), but the girls who roam its campus are of a different breed than the original Bryn Mawr lady. We have traded in our hoop skirts for jeans, and late night trips to Dunkin’ Donuts have replaced traditional tea parties. However, the change is more than that. To put it simply, the current ladies at Bryn Mawr are downright rude.
One would hope that last statement was a vast generalization, but unfortunately, it is not. There seems to be a general notion on campus that not only is chivalry dead but the decorum and civility have also been taken to the grave as well.
When someone sneezes, it is pleasant to say “bless you” or utter some other non-religious denominational sentiment. If someone holds the door open for you, please do not take it as an insignificant gesture; say “thank you.” And when that person thanks you, say, “you are welcome.” For example, when the girl standing in front of you has her arms piled with books and a takeout container and is struggling to pull open the heavy front door of Rhoads with her pinky finger, would it not be nice to offer to do it for her rather than cross your unburdened arms and impatiently wait for her to complete her arduous task?
Have you ever had to step off the sidewalk into a slimy puddle of muddy grass because the gaggle of sidewalk-hogging girls advancing toward you could not be bothered to form a single line? Has a girl literally shoved you out of her way when the bus arrives after a late night party at Haverford because the 8 a.m. class she has the next morning gives her top seating priority and permission to be rude? Has one of your friends passed on the information to you that some other people were not-so-quietly talking about how much they dislike you—girls with whom you have never spoken a word?
People do not even comprehend such simple concepts that it is probably not polite for you to take a year and a half to spread cream cheese on your bagel when there is a line forming behind you. Nor is picking out the lettuce for your salad leaf by leaf. We are all busy people here with places to go and things to do. We do not have time in our schedules for you to carefully study every crouton you consider placing on your plate. For crying out loud, it is not like anyone is even suggesting you need to be friendly. Just be polite.
It goes without saying that we might let our manners slip every now and then. With late night studying, constant assignments, and the general problems that occur when you live with only girls, we are all bound to be a bit grumpy—after all, you and the majority of your hallmates PMS simultaneously. But unless there is an epidemic of misfortune that has swept over campus during this past semester, it seems very unlikely that the rudeness on our campus can ever be justified.
Oh, of course we are all “respectful” of each other, as the honor code decrees. But how exactly do our campuses perceive respect? Certainly one person would never be allowed to disrespect someone’s culture or religion. So, is there truly any difference in respecting other people’s differences from respecting their right to be treated as humans? Honestly, people just need to start showing a little courtesy every so often.
Regardless of whether you consider Emily Post to be a product of the chauvinistic thinking of her time, there is still a need for a little common decency on this campus. If we all work together and treat each other with greater respect, we might, dare we say it, be happier with how we interact with people around us.
Although, there are other roads to happiness that skirt the issue of manners. As the line from “Mean Girls” goes, we could bake a cake “filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat it and be happy.” Or as Spike Lee has preached, we can “do the right thing,” say “please” and “thank you” like Barney taught us many years ago, and just afford those around us the same consideration that we ourselves want.
Hood, a sophomore intended political science major with an economics minor, can be reached at email@example.com. Carn, a sophomore intended history major with a classical studies minor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.