The new walkway in front of the business school isn’t a fix — it’s a bandage. While it removes the eyesore that was a trampled garden, it teaches bad habits to those that disregarded the area.
Part of what sets adults apart from children is their understanding the concept of right and wrong. Adults know what is right and can make the conscious decision to ignore it. When we see trampled plants and bent railings caused by others' disregard for school property but proceed to take the same shortcut, we are purposefully making a wrong choice.
From an early age most of us learn what is and isn’t acceptable in society. Behaviors such as throwing stuff at people or calling them names are among the generally unacceptable, for instance. Conversely, we learn take care of someone else’s property and that just because someone else does something, that doesn’t make it right. We are taught this because following the crowd and taking an easy way out of a problem isn’t just wrong, it worsens the issue.
We need to be better. We need to realize when something is wrong and not just place the blame of the problem on the person that trampled through before us. Any person after the initial trailblazer could have stopped and thought, “This is wrong, and I shouldn’t do this” and thus changed the narrative within themselves and then eventually within their peer group. However, it is not always easy to take that first step and sometimes we need a little help.
The university had an opportunity to shape its students into better adults. But when USC moved to accommodate the culprits by building a new path, it showed there are no ill consequences for the destruction of property. The university instead rewarded the behavior.
People tend to push the boundaries of what's possible, and breaking the rules is no different.
We test how much we can speed in our cars before being pulled over or how many classes we can miss before getting into trouble. Now we know how much property we can disregard without causing trouble, when we should have just been respectful in the first place.
We teach children at a young age to be respectful, but sometimes we need reminders of that as adults. We need to remember we are all one community and should respect not only the physical environment we live in, but also our social environment.