As college students, we are given vast amounts of information about everything from scholarships to changes in clubs and programs. When you factor in our academic responsibilities, the vast topics of discussion among the college administration can become quite overwhelming. While greatly impacting our academic and daily lives, it is not always reasonable to expect us to be able to have well informed opinions on every one of these topics. On occasion it is best to delegate these decisions to someone we trust. For instance, the transition to online education has led to many tough decisions. Yet, I trust the college because it is run by well-educated staff that specialize in making the best decisions for us as college students. The President of SUNY Geneseo, Denise Battles writes in an email addressed to the students, “We believe these difficult decisions represent the best way to minimize the potential spread of the virus within the campus community and keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible.” The statement shows that SUNY Geneseo’s mission is to make decisions with the student in mind, further exemplifying why us students have trust in the system. While it is still important to stay relatively informed on these matters, sometimes it is best to leave it to the professionals; a lesson learned by the investigative character, Gan, in the story “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler. In Butler’s story, the teenager is put in a position to make a very adultlike decision, on a matter of which he doesn’t fully understand; the impregnation of the males in his own species by the Tlic. He does his best to educate himself, but he does not fully understand the gravity of his decision. His relationship with the persuasive character, T’Gatoi, shows many similarities to the one shared between a student and their school. T’Gatoi has a position of power that allows her to fully understand the situation that Gan is too naive to accept. Gan realizes in the end that this decision is bigger than himself. As a college student, I find Gan’s ability to trust T’Gatoi very similar to the trust I have in my college. Knowing when to delegate a decision is extremely important in order to get through life. Yet, knowing who to put your trust in is even more important.
In the story, Gan must make an incredibly difficult decision for someone of his age to make. The decision about the impregnation, however, is of much greater consequence than he realizes. Part of this is due to his inexperience in the world; Gan has only recently come of age of maturity, according to the definitions of adulthood in his society. He judges the situation at hand with the experiences and information he has received up to that point. Unfortunately, this includes the witness of a botched birth. When the Tlic mother is not present for the birth, it is an extremely painful, and gruesome experience for the Terran. With this image in mind, Gan is terrified which leads him to make the decision of not going through with his own birth. In his own words, “I knew birth was painful and bloody, no matter what. But this was something else, something worse. And I wasn’t ready to see it. Maybe I never would be.” As a college student, I can relate this back to my own experiences of enrolling in college itself. I utilized various sources to gather the information I could on the college. For example, from this excerpt from the Geneseo mission statement, “The entire College community works together to advance knowledge and inspire students to be socially responsible and globally aware citizens who are prepared for an enriched life and success in the world.”, I was able to generalize the college’s expectations of a student. After visiting a great deal of other websites, I was able to get a good understanding of how the college is run. However, after coming to college, there are new concerns that I didn’t know to look at before. Such as, do the building have air conditioning? How is stress and depression among students dealt with? How are exams split up? After being enrolled at SUNY Geneseo for almost two semesters, the concerns I had before enrolling and after enrolling are different due to my experiences, similar to Gan. I have my opinions on how all of those questions should be answered, yet there is obviously information that I’m missing in order to make a good choice. This is where students benefit from the expertise of college officials.
The trust put into the college officials is due to their ability to make the best decisions for us students. In Gan’s case, his “college official” is represented by T’Gatoi. T’Gatoi is a Tlic politician who possesses information that Gan is missing in order to make the smart decision. While the Tlic do use the Terran for the birth of their offspring, the Terran also need the Tlic for protection on their alien planet. As Gan puts it, “Only she (T’Gatoi) and her political faction stood between us and the hordes who did not understand why there was a Preserve.” T’Gatoi makes decisions for the Terran people in their best interest, even though the humans, especially Gan, do not see it this way. T’Gatoi’s ability to weigh the risks and rewards of the rules in place comes from her vast knowledge of the topic. For this reason, she was chosen to be the political leader of the relations between the Terran and the Tlic. College officials are similar in this way. These officials are hired for their ability to think out the options and using their vast knowledge on topics that regard college students. As previously mentioned, the transition to online school has been uncharted territory for everyone. The college has been put in charge of lessening the impact on our education, while ensuring everyone is taken care of. In order to do so, the college needed to weigh out their options and make important decisions, even if they are unpopular. One of these unpopular decisions was to not allow people to come back to campus unless absolutely necessary. As students, we see this as extremely unfair considering we paid for room and board. Nonetheless, the decision to not allow students to come back was made for our own good. The college recognized the risks, which included the fear of spreading the disease, and compared them with the rewards of allowing students to come back. The outcome of the debate was that it was not a good idea. The college recognized that they would receive backlash from this decision; nonetheless, it was still the right decision. To keep the students somewhat happy, they transferred our room and board to next semester. The trust I have in the system comes from this ability to make the tough decisions. As Denise Battles, the president of SUNY Geneseo, puts it, “the safety and well-being of our college community continues to be our highest priority.”
T’Gatoi and the Geneseo college officials gain the trust of Gan and the students, respectively, by showing concern for their success in life. There is a degree of tough love in both situations, but in the end the decisions were made for our own good. As young, inexperienced persons in our societies, it is not always possible for us to see the bigger picture. With the limited experiences we have in comparison to T’Gatoi and the college officials, we need to know when to listen to the people we trust. However, the importance of choosing the right people to trust may be the most important lesson of all. Gan came to realize that T’Gatoi only wants what’s best for him, which is why he took her advice to go through with the pregnancy at the end of the story. The lessons learned by Gan can be used by every college student in regards to the academic partnership between them and their college.