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Saturday, March 9, 2024
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Opinion: How many of us really hate AU?

Complaint culture has us in a tight grip. What if we could enjoy our experiences without complaints?

The following piece is an opinion and does not reflect the views of The Eagle and its staff. All opinions are edited for grammar, style and argument structure and fact-checked, but the opinions are the writer’s own.

Every so often, I find myself questioning what brought me to American University. Even more often, I end my nights scrolling through Instagram or other forms of social media, convincing myself that I deserve it after the day I’ve had. I scroll past friends from high school and posts about the news, yet I somehow always end up deep-diving into the accounts that diminish our school. 

I remember hearing stories about friends of friends transferring and how terrible the dining hall was. After applying, I even told my parents, “I'll apply, but I’m definitely not going there.” This idea quickly changed when I understood how cool it would be to go to school in D.C. and when I heard from older alumni, hence my current attendance. So what started this trend of dissatisfaction and is it actually representative of how the student body feels as a whole?

In the fall, I found myself in awe of everything around me. I was seven hours from home, knew very few people here and had the opportunity to make completely new connections with people who were interested in the same things I was interested in. Within my first week at AU, I had my friend group and an ideal roommate situation. Aside from living in Letts Hall with its vast history of infestations and rundown living accommodations, I felt privileged to have settled in and adjusted so quickly. 

Unfortunately, a dark cloud of disappointment started to form as I followed campus favorites such as @stoolamerican and @americanuchicks on Instagram and got closer to my friends. The rose-tinted glasses I was sporting at the beginning of the semester had been lost, and I was now exposed to stereotypes about AU that were once hidden. 

After hearing about the distaste for our dining hall, wonk culture and the population of future presidents and politicians on campus, I viewed AU through a different lens. Are we really all so miserable at AU? Is it just American University students who feel this way? From what I understand, this isn’t the case, and most of what we complain about are surface-level annoyances that many college students face. 

Motivating yourself is hard, winter is cold and there’s seemingly nothing to look forward to aside from seeing your friends or getting nestled back into bed. As a student body, though, we should think about how what we say can affect the views of those around us. Complaining is relatable for us and we may believe it allows us to be heard, but it also sets a precedent on campus that plagues the minds of new students such as myself. 

Complaining isolates us and makes us miserable, untrustworthy individuals. Our complaining is unlikely to change anything, and once that energy is dispersed, it extends to those who wouldn’t otherwise have anything to complain about. 

There are so many completely valid complaints about life at AU. The food isn’t great, wonk culture is intimidating, the administration has failed us too many times and we aren’t a particularly spirited school. Unlike other college experiences, American has a strange sense of competition among the student body, and we don’t have a particular sports team to boast about. But we are located in the political hub of the country and have access to so many opportunities that those across the country do not. I have met some of the most amazing people here, and I wouldn’t trade those friendships for anything. 

As we continue to navigate our college experience, it is critical to remember that our perspectives shape our reality. I, too, have complained about life here on a daily basis, and only then has it started to weigh on me mentally. It’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of complaining in any context, but I challenge you to separate yourself from complaint culture just for a moment.

Ella Ives is a freshman in the School of Public Affairs and a columnist for The Eagle. 

This article was edited by Alana Parker, Jelinda Montes and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks, Isabelle Kravis, Isak Gustafson and Julia Patton.

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