Situated in such a large, vibrant city, The Campanil has commented before on the problematic nature of the “Mills bubble,”the uncanny perception on the College’s campus that once you step past the gatehouse, you aren’t really safe anymore. And that for many students, especially those who don’t own cars, life is centered primarily around the sights and sounds of Mills. Getting to know the campus certainly isn’t a bad thing, nor is seeking out community within our gates. But college is a time for exploring and learning about new places and cultures, of gaining experiences in The Real World to prepare us for that time when we inevitably leave Mills behind.
This semester brings new signs that the tides may be turning. With new shuttle stops and semester-long bus passes for undergraduate students, Mills is — at least on the surface — encouraging us to get to know the places and communities around us.
The shuttle, of course, previously traveled only to the Rockridge BART station, an area with almost entirely upscale establishments, and the UC Berkeley campus, an area with lots of other college students. With proposed stops near the MacArthur BART station and Lake Merritt along the MacArthur corridor, students will easily be introduced to new food, entertainment and environments.
Similarly, the AC Transit Easy Passes will also help students more easily explore other Oakland neighborhoods, including the Dimond, downtown and Jack London Square. The bus can take students almost anywhere they want to go in the East Bay. This allows students to experience completely new areas, ones that aren’t outlined in Mills literature or tourist books. This makes students who previously went out only to Berkeley or San Francisco more likely to frequent local businesses. Mills proclaims its commitment to the Oakland community, and by not shuttling its students to another city it takes a step towards standing by that statement.
Oakland is a beautiful, interesting city and each of its neighborhoods have something different to offer. The plethora of people, events and activities will amaze those students who take the initiative to go out and explore.
Every Mills student chose this school knowing where it was located and each student should realize that exploring the world outside the campus is an essential part of the college experience.