Over the past semester, I’ve used this column to discuss aspects of AU that I believe could do a better job of serving students. And certainly, as anyone who reads the daily dose of Eagle Rants can testify, there is a lot to complain about at AU.
But when we’re going day in and day out keeping up with classes, pounding out papers and projects, studying for exams, seeking out internships and navigating through campus bureaucracy, it becomes all too easy to overlook the many blessings that we take for granted as AU students.
And so, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’ve decided to use my final column of the semester to acknowledge just a few things that we can all be thankful for.
Obviously, all of us can be thankful for the mere fact that we are students here at American University.
Despite our opinions of how the University brands itself or operates, AU is by most measures a remarkable institution, one where more than half of all applicants aren’t even given the opportunity to attend. In a society where obtaining a college education is essential yet elusive for so many, that in itself deserves recognition.
And part of that blessing is thanks to financial aid. While the amount of aid we receive is never quite enough — and I can’t presume to speak for everyone on this — our financial aid is what affords us the opportunity to attend AU.
My family is just able to get by on my parents’ income, yet does not qualify for federal grants, so I absolutely would not have the privilege to be attend this University if I didn’t have an AU scholarship covering a portion of my tuition and expenses.
As much as student organizations like to complain about having to deal with the internal bureaucracy at AU, the truth is that American University does a superior job of allowing student organizations to be run by students.
Although we can debate how effective our Student Government is, we are fortunate that we do have a strong, active and autonomous Student Government that performs a number of valuable services for the student body.
On that subject, I am personally thankful that AU has such a strong array of open student-run extracurricular organizations and such a strong internship program.
I’m of the opinion that extracurricular activities are as meaningful, if not more so, as the classes we take, in terms of exposing us to learning new skills, gaining experience and developing networking opportunities.
And whether it be through on-campus organizations or off-campus internships, it is our attendance at AU that affords us the opportunity to discover our passions and career interests that will impact the rest of our lives. That is certainly something worth being thankful for.
And of course, these blessings are just the tip of the iceberg. Each of us has our own assortment of things we can indeed be thankful for as we carve the turkey this week.
This isn’t to say that we can’t still complain about issues at AU. Looking forward, there are many tasks that need to be undertaken by this campus community to help make AU better. But even as we rant about AU’s deficiencies, let’s also remember the many benefits that we reap from our attendance at this fine university, so that together, we may sow the seeds of an even brighter future.
Douglas Bell is a junior in SOC.