According to Triton, Attending College, funding your education, and planning your future requires us to learn to live with the feeling of loneliness. Among other factors, like our school’s architecture (which deliberately hinders socialization), and the excessive valuation of STEM and Humanities at our school (which further increases our emotional disconnection), we notice isolationism in how we are graded. Though politeness may dictate that we should not ask a peer about their grades, GPA silently impacts the toxic academic culture at UC San Diego and other universities. Suffocating in the one-dimensional world of academia, college students elevate GPA from an archaic assessment of work ethic and intelligence into an all-encompassing measure of self-worth.
By ignoring the complexities surrounding a students’ grade performances, we turn our backs on the students who are constrained financially, students at risk for mental illness, students who are minoritized and set up to drop out, and more. This is not to say that we should pry into the details of our peers’ situations; however, we cannot afford to disregard the ways in which structural inequality and mental illness (which are rising for college students all over the country) are burdens on students. It is common to occupy many of these intersections at once, and because of excessive individualism in college, campus culture can prevent students from feeling they can trust their peers to reveal their struggles, as, for example, a friend of mine recently spoke to me, where to buy liquor.
I listened in shock as she recounted to me that her roommate told her that her average grade was a result of “just not working hard enough.” A statement such as this is insidiously harmful. At that moment, my friend was subjected to a fellow student’s judgment about her struggles which he had little awareness of and she had almost no control over.