I recently came across a Trinity student who associated the word “inhumane” with the prohibition of hotplates: “How inhumane it is to house 150 people in one dorm, ban the use of hotplates and expect them to share one kitchen.” To this statement I say that there is absolutely nothing inhumane about the dorm life at a private university.
The word inhumane is defined as lacking pity, kindness or mercy. Although I don’t necessarily have an affinity for cold food, out of all the actual, inhumane atrocities that are happening right now in our country alone, the prohibition of a George Foreman Grill somehow does not make it to the top of my list.
Don’t get me wrong — I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no stranger to whining about such trivial matters as these. As an avid complainer myself, I have to say I agree. Sometimes when I have cold food in my fridge, I know deep down in my heart that the food would taste so much better heated on a hotplate. Since we’re not allowed to have those, I’m stuck with the microwave, or the daunting task of walking to the single dorm kitchen and hoping it’s not being used.
I’ll also admit that it is extremely annoying when the automatic lights in my dorm turn off because I haven’t moved in a while, and then I have to wiggle out of the very comfortable position I was in so that the lights turn back on. When I think of the word inhumane, however, I don’t think of hotplates.
As you start this new year at a private university, I urge you to put some things into perspective. We have private bathrooms, refrigerators, microwaves, walk-in closets and balconies. For the majority of us, our walks to class are walks — not car rides, not bike rides. Our campus is small and secure. These are all luxuries that are hard to come by at other universities. Nevertheless — even if we didn’t have some of these amenities, even if we had to share a bathroom with the rest of our floor, even if our classes were blocks away — I can’t say I’d label any of this as inhumane.
In no way do I mean this in a preachy “think about the starving children” kind of way; this isn’t about whether you have or haven’t faced true hardships in your life, but there is something to be said about the lack of awareness I see in a statement that uses inhumane to describe a college dorm. While I understand the use of hyperbole in the statement, and I know that no one really thinks the housing situation at Trinity is inhumane, it is important to recognize our privilege and reserve words like inhumane for acts so violent they are not humane rather than using it to describe cold mac and cheese.