During my freshman year I tripped while walking up the stairs in Ferris and cut my head without realizing it. I got up thinking I was fine, and proceeded to my table with blood gushing from my scalp. In the course of my walk across the dining hall I got several weird looks, but not a single person said anything to me. I didn’t know I was bleeding until I arrived back at my table and my horrified friend asked what had happened. What a perfect metaphor for Columbia, I thought at the time. I was a meaningless drop in an unfeeling sea of students.
Naturally, I didn’t think I would miss Ferris when I went off the meal plan two years ago. And while I certainly don’t miss the subpar pizza or navigating the narrow spiral staircase, I do miss the proximity to people that I have nothing in common with. As a freshman, everyone was on the meal plan, so Ferris was populated by athletes, CCSC reps, WBAR DJs, and campus journalists alike. Now as a senior, I feel like the circle of people I interact with on a regular basis has diminished.
And yes, for the jaded among you, I know that I’m over-romanticizing the notion of Ferris as a great equalizer and common ground. But whether you blame it on the wistfulness of fall or my senior year nostalgia, I miss simply being surrounded by this wide range of people. Even if being part of a mass of students can make you feel lonely and detached at times. I came to college to meet new people and be pushed out of my comfort zone. I have definitely become complacent in this regard as I approach the end of my time at Columbia. In my last few months, I’m going to try to appreciate the people who breathe life into this university. Oh, and if you see someone bleeding from the head in Ferris, ask them if they’re alright.
— Channing Prend