Look a Little Closer

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to Ben Mishkin ’00’s highly delusional “Reality Check” printed in the April 2nd issue of The Dartmouth. While certainly good for a laugh during my morning coffee, his absurd sentiments are simply too misinformed not to be refuted.

I suppose the nine whole months since our class was ceremoniously spit out of the little self-entitled utopia that we call our alma mater have lulled some of us into a nostalgic, delusory state. Ben seems to suffer from this malady; he apparently thinks that he has gained adequate knowledge of the perplexing “real world” to contribute some wisdom to those bright-eyed youngsters still eating Homeplate brownies and nursing Thursday morning hangovers. Ben, I am honestly mystified by this so-called “reality” that you seem to have discovered, in which people can be as abusive and disrespectful to their peers as they want, as long as they do not sacrifice that which must be “built, achieved, created and wondered.” I can assure you that the rest of us poor ’00 slobs, at least the ones that I bothered to keep in touch with, crashed on a very different island.

In the modern American workplace, whether it be corporate slavery, technological innovation, artistic endeavors, even childcare, it is a violation of an employee’s rights if he/she is verbally or physically harassed or abused in any way by a colleague, supervisor or client. Since graduation, I have spent countless hours ruminating in a labor law office somewhere in the bowels of New York City’s midtown district, reading complaints filed in district courts by employees of companies ranging from juggernaut investment banks to local hospitals for hearing-impaired children. These angry residents of a very “real” world have encountered behavior in the workplace that they felt was offensive and degrading, and they are hopping mad and could care less if the perpetrator came from a “mighty Ivy League institution” where it was ok to treat others like crap if they were drinking from your taps or walking past your house at 2 a.m..

In today’s world, if someone calls you a “bitch” on office grounds or during staff meetings or conference calls, you do not run and “tell the teacher,” as you so eloquently put it. No, you contact your supervisor, place a complaint in their personnel file and possibly hire a lawyer and sue the company and usually settle out of court, sometimes for obscene sums of money. You may be overreacting, and in some cases you may be completely fabricating the incident. But you can still win, and take your alleged oppressor down in the process. This is just a warning Ben — I am assuming that you have a job or will at some point in your post-Dartmouth existence — if you walk around spouting anti-“hyper-liberal” jargon and calling people whatever epithets you choose in the workplace, you won’t last long.

To try and impart to current Dartmouth students that they can continue the pervading sense of entitlement fostered on campus once they graduate does a disservice to anyone who takes you seriously. Outside of Dartmouth, you cannot respond to a stupid joke by responding “that’s so gay” or telling your cubicle-mates you think the draconian office manager is a “bitch” or calling an attractive female co-worker a “nice piece of ass.” At an office party, or even just a bar, you cannot throw beer on “annoying freshmen” or have your brothers beat up pledges from across the row. During our four years at Dartmouth, we encountered behavior like this on a regular basis. I personally saw or heard each of the above numerous times. You may be smart or attractive or athletic or accomplished or all of the above, but if you degrade others, regardless of their status, in the “real” world you will be punished for it one way or another. Welcome to reality Ben, I hope you can adjust to it. The rest of us just seemed to find it a little quicker.

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