Today has led to several interesting conclusions: about life, innovation, and initiative, as well as the state of the world in which we live and the people we share it with. I am currently an undergraduate student at the University of California, San Diego. From my experience, UCSD has a reputation for being “socially dead”, for lacking school spirit, and for being somewhat self-absorbed and removed from the community. I’m not usually one to succumb to such blatant stereotyping, though I do take them into account (usually with heavy amounts of salt), but UCSD has surprised me this year. We have continually moved up in rankings and made significant innovations and contributions to the world in various fields (though in my opinion our excellence as an institution of rigorous study and learning was never in question), but in just the past week everything has been taken to a new level. I have never felt so much pride for my university as I have in the past two days.
One saying UCSD likes to throw around is “Six colleges, one great university”. This statement is true, but rarely is the solidarity it implies really seen on campus. Students stick to their own niches in their own colleges, which keep up a gentle competition with each other similar to sibling rivalry. Tonight, however, no one was asked what college they were from. The student body was proud to be part of something much larger than itself. UCSD was one. It was both united and part of a larger whole. UCSD wanted collaboration and cooperation: not just within the student body, between colleges or individuals, but with students from other universities and other countries, with former presidents and current inventors, and in some sense, with all of humanity.
The excitement was palpable. The arena was bright with lit up faces and excited chatter. President Clinton was the star of the show, at least from the students’ perspective, but he soon turned the crowd toward a greater purpose. You could feel the minds racing in the room as inspiration struck. Soon awe gave way to contemplation and a critical approach not just to the speakers’ message but to the world of possibility. Tonight, we joined together with hope: that the youth of our nation would provide innovative solutions to the world’s problems; that the university would serve as a diving board stabilizing, raising, and propelling students forward into the depths of change so that progress could be made; and that a simple idea could better the world.