This past summer I worked as a counselor at a local recreational camp for kids between the ages of 4 and 10. I loved my job, but at times it was exhausting to mitigate the petty conflicts and controversies that would arise between campers. You might ask: What was the most frequent catalyst for tears, temper tantrums and time-outs? The answer: cutting in line.
Every day, there would be a defiant camper who, in spite of the instruction of the counselors and the protest of their peers, would step to the front of the line without waiting their turn. Whether we were handing out popsicles or setting the kicking order for kickball, there would always be one camper who thought the rules did not apply to them. It would be frustrating when we were forced to stop the activity and scold the perpetrator for showing blatant disregard for the other campers, but small children are known for, well, childish behavior.
But to all the Kenyon students who frequently cut in line, in Peirce or Wiggin or wherever: You have no excuse.
You would think that bright and high-achieving college students would act with basic social etiquette and common decency. And you would be wrong. Cutting has become so endemic in Peirce that when waiting in a particularly long line, I feel as though I am asymptotically approaching the food station but will never actually reach it because of everyone cutting in front of me.
Some may postulate that it does not count as cutting if you are merely joining a friend who is already in line. I reject this notion. Only if you are a small child at Disneyland who has been separated from the rest of your family, and you happen to find them already in line at another ride, is it okay to join a person or group of people, rather than wait at the back of the line. Kenyon students do not have to be engaging in this kind of behavior.
Finally, the greatest pitfall when one decides to cut is that it creates an environment in which cutting is encouraged and rule following is pointless. If there are endless cutters in front of me in line, the only way I should ever reach my destination is by joining the masses and cutting them. This is a vicious cycle in which everyone loses.
To solve this game theory problem, I propose the following solution: If no one cuts, we all benefit. If everyone cuts, none of us benefit. If most of us do not cut, but a few of us cut, the rule followers are punished and the rule breakers are rewarded. Thus, we all must make an effort to be respectful and not cut; otherwise, Peirce and other common spaces across Gambier will descend into anarchy.
More generally, Kenyon students (myself included) could be more kind and respectful in how we carry ourselves on campus. It is important to thank the kitchen staff and maintenance workers, as this campus simply would not function without them. We should apologize if we bump into others in Peirce, and hold doors open for those behind us. We should clear our tables when we are finished eating, and not make a mess in the public bathrooms. We aren’t children, and Kenyon isn’t a summer camp.
Milo Levine ’23 is a columnist at the Collegian. He is an economics major from Mill Valley, Calif. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.