- Class: Senior
- Major: Theatre
- Gender: F
- High School: St. Mary's Academy, Portland Oregon
- Transfer Student: N
Occidental is a little bit of everything... emphasis on little. It's a small school, and that's the way I like it. There is a Greek life and there is a Geek life. Being in the theater department, have a very different and perhaps limited view of the school. The theater majors are literally split from the rest of campus because our building stands at the top of the hill, far away from all the other academics. Similarly and unfortunately, the department lacks the challenges and delights of diversity that the rest of the campus enjoys, largely I believe, because of the lack of a faculty member of color. But concerning the school at large, its location is brilliant but best taken advantage of with a car or with an eager bent for public transportation (a bike splits the difference nicely). The food in the cafeteria is far better than most places and every once in a while they make an effort to have extra healthy or organic options. The administration is a bit backwards-- the Board of Trustees has too much control over who stays and who goes, what happens and what doesn't happen. Our first female president spent only one semester in office before stepping down because of differences with the board. To my understanding, these were over such things as funding for study abroad and issues of tenure. In Ms. Prager's defense, she spent time while in office having private meetings with every professor on campus. She knew what the school needed, but the Board refused (and continues to refuse) to listen. The student government does not have enough power to challenge the administration and we are not unified enough as a student body to demand the power to change. Instead, small groups make their voices heard in the community-- a valuable and abundant opportunity at Oxy. Oh, and my experience with financial aid is that the are terrible.
Every semester there are academic ups and downs for me. Coming from a small, very competetive and rigorous high school, Occidental is easy for me. I easily recieve As or A-s every semester. (Unfortunately, the financial aid and scholarship department is so bad that this really doesn't reap any immediate benefits). Professors do know your name, and if they don't, it doesn't mean it's a bad class. Most classes are about 20 people, but some much smaller and some much bigger. Occidental has a rigorous Core Program that frustrates many first and second year students. However, I have found that if you take the class that sounds hard but interesting instead of the class that will purportedly give you an easy A, the Core Program can be a really valuable resource for extending your education into different fields. I must say I find the lack of student interest in their classes frustrating. There is usually little class participation and even less competition-- it's cooler to do your paper in 20 minutes before the deadline than it is to finish it 2 weeks ahead of time. All professors hold office hours and the large majority are very open to students coming to see them. There is also definitely grade inflation, but I imagine almost every campus in the U.S. experiences that.
The big issue is always diversity. The campus itself is diverse-- there are people from all over the country, the world, and from many different backgrounds. The campus is eager to make issues of tolerance and diversity public matters, but has yet to find the right way to do it. There so far exists a formula for "dialogue," which manifests in many ways-- shouting matches, presentations, tentative public conversations (literally into a mircophone in the quad)... and many other things. I must say that none of these public venues have ever inspired honesty, confidence, open-mindedness, or compassion in me or anyone I know. I think the school needs to find new ways to address these legitimate and important issues. The best conversations I've had have been with friends. My friends and I joke that the most common phrase used in a "dialogue" situation resembles: "I agree with everything you just said, but I completely disagree with you." Oxy talks itself in circles as it is. I'm afraid of what I can and cannot say just walking down the quad. However, I do love that the issues are out there and that at least Oxy is TRYING-- so many other campuses are not.
The Best Things
You can make it whatever you want, including... AMAZING!
The Worst Things