Entitlement is an ongoing problem among Eckerd students. And while the inherent privilege of attending a private institution is unavoidable, arrogance towards our staff and faculty is unacceptable.
“In last year’s class, one girl ran out of flex [dollars] within two weeks of autumn term, and when I told her about it, her response was ‘I have a trust fund,’” Rose Huinker, an employee at the Eckerd Triton's Pub said.
Financial indifference should not factor into how you treat others, nor should it be synonymous with Eckerd. From our dining staff to our housekeepers, kindness, respect and appreciation must be automatic. But interactions like the one Huinker experienced do happen, and Peer Mentor Tyler Smith had his fair share of similar experiences.
“What we've been hearing about first-years so far are a lot of stories of them being disrespectful,” Smith said.
But Smith thinks this behavior may stem from how Eckerd markets itself and the demographics they recruit.
“When you see how Eckerd brands itself, it's almost like we’re a vacation school,” Smith said. “The first thing they show you on the website is the beach, the sun and people having fun. Does that really attract the people that respect others? Or is it more like a tourist-school?”
According to Smith, he also fears that Eckerd’s treatment of first-years inadvertently affects how they treat their staff.
“The freshman might feel like they're being disrespected themselves. Everybody knows Sigma and West Lodge are the worst dorms to live in, smells like crap when you wake up and if you have a bad RA that doesn’t work hard to get you introduced to your peers, you might be angry and accidentally take it out on someone at the college,” Smith said.
Forming bonds with peers is a significant part of college. Huinker also noted that students treat her differently once they find out she was once a student here.
“Most kids are friendlier to me because they think I am a student. I’ve had kids that, unless I tell them I was a student, they're just plain rude,” Huinker said.
The majority of Eckerd's staff are not alumni, but that should not mean we are allowed to treat them differently. For Rosemary Smith, a longtime worker at Eckerd’s cafeteria, the way to treat students in order to gain their respect is simple.
“I’ve been here for almost 17 years, and one thing I’ve learned is that you have to give respect in order to get respect, and I learned working with all these students over all these years, if you treat them with respect, they give you the same treatment,” Rosemary said.
I am unsurprised by the moral clarity expressed by our housekeepers, food staff and maintenance workers. However I don't believe Ms. Rosemary needs to turn a blind eye to our indiscretions, nor do I believe Huinker should have to serve churlish patrons. This was just a choice few of the improprieties I’ve heard from staff and students, and I’m more struck by their hesitancy to have these stories recorded than I am by their existence. So please, look your housekeeper in the eye and say thank you to those who fill your plate. We get better together.