Northeastern Disorientation

Introduction: Why a Disorientation Guide?

 · 3 mins read

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

-Lilla Watson

You’ve read the marketing material by now and have learned everything about Northeastern it wants you to know. Jobs!!!! Greenest Campus in America!!!! Jobs!!!! Experiential Learning!!!! Diversity!! Look at our ranking climb!!!! Did we already say jobs!!!!?

Welcome to your unlearning 🙂

Not everything that Northeastern tells you is a lie (yes, you’ll probably have an easier time finding a job after college because of co-op), but a lot of it is at best an exaggeration and at worst a complete deception.

Northeastern only spends money in ways that will give it a boost in the college rankings algorithm, and refuses to direct that money towards initiatives that address the needs of students. Northeastern’s obsession with constructing functionally questionable and financially inaccessible dorm buildings turns students into gentrifiers, pushing them off campus and our neighbors out of their lifelongtime homes. Northeastern’s inadequate health and counseling services forces us to utilize community health clinics, taking away those resources from the vulnerable residents of Boston who need it most. And just as I’m sure you’ve heard Northeastern is a “global institution,” the effects of our actions reach far and wide. We invest in companies that profit from the destruction of our planet. We name buildings and craft statues that glorify those who finance the genocide of peoples.

But ya know, Northeastern’s not all bad. We’ve got some badass dining hall workers. We’re in a great city and can take advantage of all it has to offer. There are many professors, adjunct and tenured, that truly care about giving us the best education. There are rad people making pretty rad art. Our library calls itself a club. And if anyone tells you they came to Northeastern for any reason other than co-op, they’re probably lying to you.

It’s important to remember that Northeastern’s shortcomings are not unique. It’s a trend, plaguing “higher” education as we know it. We aren’t the only gentrifiers, we aren’t the only resume-builders, we aren’t the only corporate shills chasing after the big bucks (yikes). Tuition is rising everywhere. University workers are being outsourced, responsibility for low wages and no benefits shifting elsewhere.

And, probably, you’re gonna have fun while you’re here (I/we sure have). However, at the end of the day you’re the newest members of the Northeastern community and, together, we’re responsible for keeping Northeastern accountable. That means staying informed about the ways Northeastern is hurting its students and the surrounding communities. That means making thoughtful decisions about how you spend your dollars. How can we help support local businesses, especially those owned by women and people of color, that are being hurt by Northeastern? Where can I find organizations doing the hard work of making our city better, and can I help them with my money or time? It also means, to the best of our abilities, helping to do the hard work ourselves of making Northeastern better- don’t shy away from tough conversations with your friends, use your design skills to create a poster for a protest, join a campaign, show up to a rally. We’re more powerful than Northeastern makes us out to be, and we hope this guide can be a starting point for you.