It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve been writing for Pipe Dream since spring 2019. And it’s even harder for me to believe my entire undergraduate experience is coming to an end in just a couple of weeks. In this time, the world has kept on spinning, past every little hiccup that seems like an impassable obstacle in the moment. But there’s one last thing, or rather three last things, I want to emphasize before my departure:
1. Never stop learning. No one person can know everything, no matter how broad your education is. If my philosophy courses have told me anything, even after dedicating dozens and dozens of hours to a thesis last semester, no matter how much you think you know, there’s always more to learn. There’s an immeasurable amount of beauty in culture, ideas and intellectual advances, both near and far. Don’t hide from it, bask in it!
2. Don’t wait. If there’s anything that inspires you, don’t wait to get involved on those issues. I don’t care if this is your first or last semester here — the time to act is always now. If you think you’re late to the party, with just a handful of months in Binghamton left I had applied to intern for a local grassroots congressional campaign, and it has been a deeply impactful experience for me (and the primary election has not even happened yet!) Trust me, there’s an organization, a campaign, a cause, something that is worth fighting for, no matter who you are.
Maybe the first place you make your stand won’t turn out well. But maybe it will. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll start building connections, learning how you can use your own skills to help better push for things you believe in. We underestimate just how impactful a handful of people can be when well-organized on some goal, electoral or otherwise.
3. Social progress never stops. The fight for greater social justice, economic justice, racial justice and environmental justice, will never be fully realized. We will never reach a utopia, but we can make the lives of millions, even billions, better. There will always be another battle to be fought, another way we can improve society. If dreaming is what inspires you, dream on! Change happens slowly and there will always be thinkers and activists ready for tomorrow, helping human excellence reach loftier heights.
If you’re a bit more of a pessimist, do not let that pessimism go to waste — use it. Complacency and apathy are the antithesis of the advancement of whatever issue you care about. I hate to be a downer, but never forget that it can always, always get worse, no matter how bleak and melancholy it feels right now. Backsliding is no joke, and it’s necessary to keep in mind that every major civil rights victory in the history of the United States has happened despite actors and movements working against them from start to finish, even after those battles were won. Let us not be so arrogant to think history stops with us, moving linearly towards utopia. Every advancement of the past, and every one of the future, will always be one that must be fiercely and relentlessly defended. If dreaming of possibility isn’t your thing, preserving progress is as real and tangible as a brick.
So, with my three rules for life wrapped up, I would like to thank some of the people at Binghamton University that have made my experience something I will never forget. In particular, Professors Yulia Bosworth, Melissa Zinkin, Anthony Reeves and Linda Wong, who have all shown me the kind of support and encouragement I have rarely received. It’s professors like you that encourage and remind me of these three principles, even when I’m the one that forgets.
I would also like to thank the Pipe Dream staff over the past seven semesters for putting up with my nonsense, especially Evan, Sarah, Liz, Kate, Doris and Willa for their countless hours of work over the years. Alas, there’s too many staff members to list everyone, but it’s only with every member working together that the paper can keep on publishing.
If there’s three things I hope you take from college: Never stop learning. Don’t wait. Social progress never stops. It doesn’t matter whether you or any of us asked for this responsibility. It’s ours now, so let’s get to work. We have a future to build.
Eleanor Gully is a senior triple-majoring in French, economics and philosophy, politics and law. She is an opinions columnist.