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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

An apparent problem with attitudes on campus

Published: November 12, 2010
Section: Opinions

GRAPHIC BY Leah Lefkowitz/The Hoot

Let’s start with a story. Last Thursday a few friends and I went to the Student Activities monthly bingo event at Ollie’s. Sometimes nobody wins and sometimes we all win; once I won a nice DVD player. Last Thursday, we noticed that, at a booth next to us, a player had more boards than allowed (students are limited to two boards for fairness).

A friend of mine attempted to politely inform the player that they had one board too many. To the people at my table, it seemed like no big deal, a simple mistake on the part of the player.

To a friend of the offending player, however, it seemed to be something more. The players’ friend decided to tell my friend to “go smoke a joint.” My friend nearly freaked out at this statement, insulted that someone would suggest that he needed illegal substances to calm down.

Luckily for my friend, the group we were with was able to calm him down quickly and the situation ended at that. This chain of events left me bothered for more than a few reasons. The key topics, though, were the way some people approach games, and a not too uncommon opinion regarding consumption of marijuana.

The latter topic is clearly the more alarming one. It has already been established that some students’ attitudes toward alcohol need reexamining, as shown by Pachanga every semester.

Clearly attitudes toward substances that are illegal for all ages also need reexamining. I won’t pretend to have been ignorant of the fact that some students smoke pot. While it does bother me, I tolerate it because I don’t plan on telling people what to do; live and let live, even if foolishly.

What crosses the line is when someone tells me or my friends that we are in the wrong when we are not the ones advocating something illegal. Not only was it alarming that someone would encourage pot use as though it were perfectly normal, but it also gets to the potential problem of butting into other people’s business. While the jury apparently is undecided on the long-term risks of pot, the fact of the matter is it’s currently illegal.

While I do not want to tell fellow students how I think they should live their lives, I urge students that engage in this type of behavior to at least keep it within their own user community. Don’t, even if jokingly, suggest drugs to a student you don’t know. They might very well be offended.

The other topic this encounter raised was playing games. While the person with a third bingo board was likely unaware that they were breaking the rules, it doesn’t seem all too rare for people to try and get away with stuff they shouldn’t.

From my viewpoint, everything you do, even how you play a game, is a telling sign about you as a person. If you manipulate a game to win a prize, that tells me that for you the ends justify the means. If you’re someone who hacks a videogame to yield a victory, that tells me that you’d rather take shortcuts than develop as a player.

Games typically have no real world consequences; however, that does not mean that games should be used as an opportunity to act differently than you would in the real world. I like to win as much as most people; maybe even more than that. That being said, I find playing games and going all-out—like trying to be Rambo in a round of “Call of Duty”—to be infinitely frustrating because dying and starting over isn’t fun; it’s just time consuming.

Taking risks in games isn’t inherently bad, you may even find a genius new strategy, but there is a point when taking a risk becomes something else.

Both these events were alarming because they both brought to light bad attitudes that seem to be increasingly common on campus. Maybe it’s just people not thinking before they speak, saying the first thing that comes to mind whether it is rational or not. Maybe it’s the idea that a game is a chance to do something one would never do in a real-world situation. Either way, it seems darker attitudes are on the rise, and while no one is perfect (I don’t advocate trying to be perfect since it is impossible) we can all try to be better.