STAFF EDITORIAL: Bursting the Mills bubble

September 2, 2011

As some of you new students may have noticed by now, Mills is not exactly in “the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area.”  In fact, Camp Mills is kind of its own little isolated universe, divided from our East Oakland neighborhood by  a wall which — in some places — is actually a fence with barbed wire.

Unsuprisingly, this barbed wire is not featured in the official brochure or on the website.

To merely call the euphemistic description of our location “false advertising” does not fully acknowledge the problematic physical isolation of Mills from the surrounding community.

Certainly Mills is taking noteworthy steps to climb itself down from the ivory tower — namely, implementing of the Investing in Oakland program this summer.  However, students must also make the effort to climb down.  Nothing will change if we just stay home in our dorms Rapunzel-style.

Don’t get us wrong:  warm and tingly feelings for Mills abound here in the newsroom.  However, The Campanil staff encourages students both returning and brand new to burst the Mills bubble, so to speak, whenever possible.

This could include such things as just setting foot off campus (for those of us non-commuters). Occasionally taking the shuttle to Rockridge to get sushi does not count.

So whip out those bus passes you already paid for and explore our Oakland  neighborhood; a place that can be just as magical as San Francisco whether or not it gets put on a brochure.

STAFF EDITORIAL: Bursting the Mills bubble was published on September 2, 2011 in Editorial, Opinions

Print this page Print this page

  • Sarah Jeanne Lombardo

    I will shamelessly plug the new student organization, Challenging White Supremacy, as a space to discuss why many Mills folks don’t feel comfortable using our bus passes: the perception of Oakland as dangerous and scary, save for the areas that are not so visibly communities of color. Student News will have the time and location for the group’s meeting. Until then, I would definitely like to hear form other students about whether that idea matches people’s perceptions, and why or why not.

  • Kayla Isaacs

    It has always surprised me how content students here seem to be staying in their rooms on campus all weekend. I guess most of the people who can’t stand to live like this have moved off campus?

    It’s really easy to get trapped in the Mills bubble. After all, for most of us, everything we need – food, a place to sleep, shower, and study – is right here. But I have always found that I appreciate Mills much more after I leave for a little bit. I start to feel very claustrophobic here, seeing the same faces and scenery over and over again. I crave some city entertainment.

    Oakland is awesome. Go take a walk around Lake Merritt – it will clear your head and you can ogle the men and women who go walking and jogging there. Piedmont is fantastic – there is a great movie theater there, plus Fenton’s. There are great Ethiopian restaurants in North Oakland and Temescal. Fruitvale has kickass Mexican food – we went to this hole-in-the-wall place that had burritos “the size of a small child,” as my friend described. Go find some chicken and waffles or other delicacies in West Oakland. There are a ton of parks, museums, places to see. Do yourself a favor and go get some stimulation that doesn’t involve reading a textbook or watching YouTube.

    Oh, and it’s Rockridge, not Rockwell. (P.S. I know I’m supposed to be touting the virtues of Oakland, but if you cross the Oakland border into the Berkeley neighborhood Elmwood, you’ll discover the glorious ice cream shop that is Ici.)

  • Justin

    The school exhibits great energy in attracting new students from across the country, but little in introducing these students to the surrounding city in which they must inevitably navigate. For while the amenities of the campus are impressive, there are goods and services, job opportunities, etc…that can only be attained outside. (I am thinking most specifically about the surrounding neighborhoods such as the Laurel, Fruitvale, Seminary, Dimond District, downtown Oakland, and yes Rockridge). Fortunately the school has a great resource to remedy this situation, which is, the experience of the great many students who have lived in Oakland long enough to learn how it works. So then, why not, I ask, have a forum moderated by those more knowledgeable students who, I am sure, would be gladly willing to offer some guidance and wisdom?

    The process of transition could be economized in this regard, empowering new students to explore their environments more confidently, spending less time on trial and error expeditions and more time on their studies. Which I think, is what we all want in the end.

    At the heart of this matter is this: Oakland is an incredibly diverse place, the complexity of which simply can not be boiled down and fit on a brochure.

    It’s time to open channels and build support networks. While it’s nice to think these things happen naturally, in a case as unique as Oakland, let’s not leave it to chance.

    This has been an issue quite personal to me for some time, so I thank the editors for bringing it to the fore.

    Best wishes and Godspeed.