Economic Disparity That Starts From Campus Life

My friend and I were walking on our path to campus. Once we talked about how the overwhelmed motor-cycle and car parking lot in the campus. Our talking, arbitrarily, continued unto a topic about how could reduce the private-vehicle user at the campus since it was doubtful for increasing the payment. Many students would raise protest with their own reasons such as their home those are very far from campus.

I then said that actually the changing life style of students at our campus brought so many consequences such as the economic disparity among students. My friend agreed with my statement and he added that the disparity in the campus become clearer ever since. “When I entered this campus first time, knowing that I had a rent-house for one-a-half million rupias a month, I was scare for talking about it publicly. And when I brought my new car from Jakarta, I also had a feeling that I will be very strange. But now, I am feeling that my condition is normal. People may freely talk about their rent-house for up to two millions per month. They also can easily for talking about motor-cycle, car, publicly. I never mind it will be happened before.”

The condition depicted above is absolutely happening nowadays, not only at my campus. But, there is one thing that should be noted down: the disparity comes from the students, the so called future leader. It can be clearly seen also when some of my friends can easily talk about their new car and how busy they are for getting regular service. Some people then also talked about how proud they are since they could go abroad. The story is never-ending since there is a sharing among them almost every day, though the story is always same. It just repeated seemingly to announce: I can go abroad, either for taking some courses or for taking some relax time.

Francis Fukuyama in his treatise, Our Posthuman Future, explains a little regarding self-esteem. Even though he correlates it with drug, I would like to correlate it with nowadays living. He says that self-esteem is a psychological concept and undoubtedly people will need it in order to be fully recognized as human being.

He explains further with quoting Robert Frank since he says that much of we understand to be economic interest is really a demand for status recognition or positional goods. It can be concluded then having branded goods do not merely mean that we need it. Instead, we buy it for people to acknowledge that we also can for having it. Undoubtedly, it will raise our social status in surrounding society.

If it is correlated in the economic disparity that starts in campus, it can also be said that having a car or motor cycle and going abroad are often correlated with student’s desire for recognition instead of transportation. Why do not they take public transportation for going to campus if their house is not that far? Why do not they just take their experience in going abroad in their mind or just sharing it at “normal” time, means that it is not that often shared giving some signs that they were eager to be recognized?

Fukuyama further says that there is a devaluation of self-esteem in nowadays era. He says that a normal and morally acceptable way for achieving it are by struggling, competing, and working hard. And devaluation comes when people can get it easily without have to struggle. In his book, people obtain it by consuming Prozac, a kind of drugs that can provide serotonin which is believed contribute for producing self-esteem in human being, and in student’s lifetime, it is achieved by having goods which is granted and not taken by struggling. By having it, they can earn their rising-status automatically.

But, how important that matter? Being recognized as having something that people cannot have it easily just brings disparity. There will be a gap between people who are rich, standard, and those who are poor. And is it a good condition in campus life?

Michael J. Sandel in his book, Justice, says that in order to achieve a good nation, solidarity is needed and thus a disparity should not be let to grow well since there will be no more equality. Since solidarity is a bonding agent, a nation can degrade and break down if it loses its solidarity. Thus, the same logic can also be applied in the students’ case.

Society may say that actually undergraduate-students are people who can be engaged in voicing society’s aspiration. The May 1998 tragedy where student could easily break down the authoritarian regime still exists in people’s mind. But, one thing that should be noted is in that era the solidarity feeling among students was at its peak since they shared a same feeling namely repression by authoritarian era.

Nowadays condition, however, is not the same. Economic disparity may raise feeling inferiority among the poor and superiority among the rich. They are left with their own room and make it available only for those who can follow each of the life style of the group. The poor cannot join the rich since they will lose their money in significant and huge amount. And the rich may also feel unsatisfied either. How can then solidarity be built?

Undoubtedly, this is a phenomenon that actually cannot be hindered. But, student themselves can start to promote solidarity by their struggle to clear up economic disparity. It can be started from a simplest way by using public transportation and reduce their “show-off” deeds among their peers.

Furthermore, campus authority may have to raise the payment of the public-vehicle in campus. Aside for reducing pollution, it is useful to promote inclusive circumstance in campus. In special case regarding student who have the distance between their home and campus is very far, private vehicle may be used by making approval between counselor and parents. Another alternative is by applying campus-mass-transportation that is exclusively used for students either for taking or delivering them from and to home if they have to go home late night or if their house is very far.

Economic disparity in campus actually should be cleared up. If it cannot be stopped, it then doubtful for student to promote change for Indonesia since they still maintain disparity. Thus, it is also doubtful to clear up the gap between the rich and poor in Indonesia since student are the future generation and leader for Indonesia.

Furthermore, if, from now, as a future leader, student cannot control their desire to be recognized based upon branded goods, it is then a matter of fact that corruption case increases in Indonesia since the corrupted money is used for satisfying their mundane desire. Important to be noted: to be recognized is not always started by having something branded and private.