Recently I talked to a prospie from my eensy-weensy
hometown, and the topic of Olin's smallness came up. He thought that going from
a small high school to a small college would be boring and confining. I was
worried about the same thing when I was checking out Olin, but now I have come
to appreciate it. Our little Olin "bubble" may stop the outside world from
getting in (I didn't know who was playing in the Super Bowl until I walked
through the lounge and it was on TV), but the stuff on the inside happens to be
I like to think that if I went to a bigger school, there
would be about the same amount of people that I would deem worth talking to,
because it is very easy to find something to discuss with a fellow Oliner,
whether it be the hover-text of the latest XKCD, or stories of the night before
the design nature toy was due.
Another thing I appreciate about Olin's small size is that
each student makes a difference when they are here. In fact, the aim of an
assignment for a class called Foundations of Business and Entrepreneurship was
"change the world". For a lot of students, Olin is "the world", or at least a
stepping stone to the entire world. Many of my friends are in this class, and
one group is working on changing the residential life world by making
gender-neutral housing an option for students at Olin.
This team has made an incredibly valiant effort to change
something that is controlled by the administration. Students cannot change housing
policy by just voting for a change, or by proposing it to CORe (Council of Olin
Representatives: our student government body). But this FBE team has broadly spread awareness
of the initiative, given students a chance to express their opinions and
concerns, and addressed most of these concerns in a way that satisfied
students. There have been anonymous polls, meetings, and open-table
discussions. And though there has been no administrative action to change this
policy yet, there seems to be a mindset change among students.
It is a rather formidable goal to change something like
housing policy, and the team is making progress. Olin is a rather progressive
school, and breaking down gender-binary barriers seems like something that
could be accomplished, perhaps with some time.
Of course, people have succeeded greatly in previous
projects to change life at Olin. There is a room in the campus center that used
to have a pool table. Two students (before my time) decided that it would be a
nice place to hang out, and wanted to make it more welcoming and comfortable.
They requested some funds from CORe, and now the room is positively swanky.