Student conversations vary about pesonal issues

By Melissa DiPietrantonio
October 24, 2002

Students at Cabrini are found to have widely varying opinions about discussing intellectual and mind-stretching topics. The degree directly depends on friendship, classes and personalities.

Sophomore Jayme Thompson enjoys speaking to older people. She said, “There are older people I know who I talk to about my life. They are insightful, so I learn from them. There is an older woman in my education class who I had to work with and she, to my surprise, was on my 19-year-old level. She switched her adult way of thinking to mine and the whole groups to relate to us. So it was really nice and I could tell her intelligence, being older, and her wisdom and everything. So yes, I do talk to older people. It’s actually kind of nice.”

Hispanic, heterosexual sophomore Terisita Cruz has a homosexual friend and she said he keeps his conversation about being gay between the two of them. “He has told me about what it is like being gay, but only because he felt he could trust me. He does not go around telling everyone about his lifestyle and I do not think too many people do because they are not comfortable.”

Some people would like to engage in serious conversations, but do not find many people who are willing to do the same. African American senior Geronna Lewis said, “I do talk about religion, but there is only one person I talk to about it. The only reason I talk to this one person is because they believe in the same things I believe in. It is not something a lot of people talk about. I have another friend who does not like anything religious. I know she believes, she is Catholic, but when it comes to discussing different divisions of religion, she does not feel comfortable about it. It is such an uncomfortable issue to talk about. It is like a taboo to talk about religion for some people.”

Lewis’ conversations do not go beyond her group of friends, who are primarily African American. “I personally have never had a deep conversation with another student of different ethnic background. I have spoken to maybe a couple different people that brought about certain issues regarding being a minority. That is about as far as it goes though. It’s nothing deeper than that,” Lewis said. “I think students do talk to other ethnicities and races, but it is all a matter of who you hang out with. The majority of my friends are African American, like me, but I do talk to other people. It just so happens that my closest friends are African American. People do talk to people outside their ethnic background, but it does not last very long because it starts to get touchy. Sometimes there is also a cultural difference, so people have a different perspective because they grew up differently. Their view on one issue can be totally different and they start butting heads. It does not happen too often. There might be a slight conversation and after that it’s not heard of again. I do it all the time. Maybe the other person will not relate to you the same because you think they are too different from you.”

Lewis thinks many times people have these types of conversations when they are in class, such as an ethics class. “When an issue is really of interest or touchy, people have their own opinions. That is the only time that you will really find students talking amongst each other about the sort of ‘taboo topics.'”

Lewis likes to speak to the faculty and staff of the college to be better informed. “I talk to older people all the time like older adults on campus about the politics of the college because I do not really know how it is run, but there are certain things I try to look into. Being a student here I should be concerned with how everything is run on campus. I talk to older people to learn and it helps me figure out where my mindset is and what am I thinking.”

Lewis feels as if students do not have enough to say about important issues such as the college. “A lot of people say ‘Cabrini sucks!’ I mean, why does it suck? Is it because everything isn’t going your way? Or is there something that they are doing that is not right. Usually the college has a reason for the things they do. I might not understand or agree with it, but there is a reason. It is good to understand this knowledge. It is hard to talk to some students your age because they have different mind levels. I am not saying that I am intelligent, but when you really want to have a deep conversation with them, they are just like, ‘it sucks.’ Give me some more than that! People this age are like, ‘hi, how are you?’ It is a very small conversation, not very intellectual. It is like ‘oh she dumped her boyfriend,’ and I am like ‘oh, that’s so sad.'”

African American junior Aking Beverly has intellectual conversations very frequently, especially about religion. “I do tend to talk to teachers. I tend to talk to my peers, philosophy majors and teachers about religion as a whole. As far as deep conversation goes, for me, pure enlightenment comes from it. I have a lot of spiritual mentors that know a lot about different religions and have actually been to different countries.”

Beverly said he takes past their comfortable limits. “I talk about homosexuality, their insecurities and especially religious beliefs. I like to talk to a lot of philosophy majors about their beliefs because they try to challenge spiritual beliefs with logical beliefs.”

“I was a die hard homophobe and I was put in a situation where I ended up working in a store full of homosexuals, and basically the money was too good for me to run away because of my fear, so I had the chance to sit down and actually understand why. I understood their sins and flaws are no different from my sins and my flaws.”

Most of Beverly’s conversations are had with Caucasians. “All my deep conversations have come from white students craving knowledge. Black people that I have tried to talk to out of my immediate group have not been open to hearing about religion. Some do not even know about philosophy at all. They just do not really care or do not want to hear it. People that I do talk to tend to be Caucasian.”

There are also those students who very rarely have these discussions. Caucasian sophomore Peter Schauster said, “I would say I have intellectual conversations about gays, race, etc. close to never, because there are not that many people on campus you can engage in an intellectual conversation with.”

Fifth year senior, Amanda Howard said, “I never have intellectual conversations. I do not talk much so when I do I just make small talk. I do not think I have enough to say about certain issues to have a discussion about them. Most people in college do not have much to say about serious issues.”

Some students think a person needs to really know someone before they discuss serious issues. Caucasian senior Renee Tomcanin said, “It is few and far between the people who are completely open with everybody and those who keep to themselves. If people are in situations not known to them, of course they are not going to have much to say. If you and your best friend are two 19-year-old girls from New Jersey of course you are going to be a lot more open than someone who meets a 19-year-old boy from West Virginia. It takes time to develop a relationship. I just think it depends on your personality. Are you the type of person who will go up and talk to anyone about anything or are you the type of person who will just stick to yourself and make a few close friends? It is just finding common ground between differences.”

Every individual is different and has his or her own viewpoints. It is stretching beyond the safe realm that is risky with certain students, but many choose to take that risk.

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Melissa DiPietrantonio

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