Role change

Last semester, I was enrolled in Introduction to Sociology with Professor Yu Tao, and I found this course particularly fulfilling. As its name implies, sociology is the scientific study of group behavior, combining both my appreciation for scientific inquiry and my fascination of how we as a species act collectively.

Earlier in the semester, Professor Tao introduced the concept of status, which is a position — either ascribed to us at birth or earned through merit — that we occupy. We are not limited to one single status, and each position comes with requirements, called “roles.”

When I thought about what statuses I have occupied during my lifetime, several come to the forefront of my mind: student, sister, friend. If I narrow the scope, last year had been defined by my status as the Chair of the Stevens Honor Board. But alas, internal elections have come and gone, and I no longer occupy that status.

In Sociology, I more so remember our class discussing the acquisition of status, which most often comes with a sense of fulfillment. However, we didn’t delve deeply into when one loses a status, and just two days after elections, I cannot find the words to articulate my emotional state.

There is a sense of relief (my inbox will not be as inundated as it once was), but also a small yet pronounced shred of desolation. My experience as Chair was arduous on many levels, but I believe I finally learned how to work as a cohesive team member with Emily, Lucas, and Victoria by my side at all times. While Honor Board hearings were nerve-racking and addressing concerns within the general membership were not cut-and-dry, I became very comfortable within my role as Chair. It was a privilege to serve alongside my peers, and I look forward to finishing my senior year as a general member.

And while my grappling might continue, I can only assume this is normal (I’ll have to ask Dr. Tao about this one). This small void will be filled with another status — if I’m lucky, one that is salaried and comes with benefits — and my time as Chair will become just another fond memory of my time at Stevens. In the meantime, if you’re like me and are saying goodbye to a status you cherished, thank those who entrusted you in the first place because without the group behind you, these statuses are merely self-proclaimed labels.