Bailey: Engage with your surroundings, take out your headphones

Fynn Bailey

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Community is a big deal to Colorado State University. It’s a lot of what they preach about when they are trying to attract new students. They want people to know that even though we have over 30,000 students, we are one big family. While this isn’t really the case, there a few things we can do to bring us closer together: one of which is taking out our earbuds.


Saying that all students at CSU are one big family is an overstatement to the highest degree, seeing as I haven’t talked to a business major in three years. However, it is true that we as individuals build the community.

If we want the community we build to be a more friendly and more empathetic one, then we must first stop isolating ourselves while walking around campus.

In his book “It Happens In The Hallway,” Sam Stecher talks about building community and culture within his high school. One of his key points is engaging with your “hallway,” or the places you are between locations. Stecher argues that when you engage with your hallway, it connects you more to the people around you and leads you into more positive interactions with your community.

When Stecher wrote this book, he meant it for teachers to leave their classrooms during passing period. I believe it’s equally true for us students who are not engaging with our environments as we move throughout campus.

By putting in headphones and looking down, we are minimizing the possibility that we notice anything on our walks.

The most popular way to ignore your surroundings is by wearing headphones and sunglasses and just marching to class with your head down. To be clear, I’m not attacking people who do this. I do this all the time — but we can all be better.

When we miss all those opportunities to grow the community of our classrooms, or even just our friend groups, by ignoring the chance to walk with people from class to their next locations and isolating ourselves from all chance encounters, we are doing ourselves a disservice. We are missing vital growth moments for our community.

It’s also true that when we ignore our walking routes, we miss the things CSU has put there to develop our culture, such as its art pieces or forestry.

We all have those trips from home to school where when we get there, we can’t remember anything about the trip. That’s because if we don’t focus on what we’re doing when we travel familiar routes, our brain doesn’t take anything in. By putting in headphones and looking down, we are minimizing the possibility that we notice anything on our walks.

It’s a simple change to all of our lives, and, yes, it might mean that you’ll have to listen to your Discover Weekly at home. It will be worth it to unplug or unsync your ear buds and take time to notice the world around you.

Hopefully you go above and beyond and maybe actually start to smile at people and talk to new friends on your walk to class. Then you’ll be doing a great job of engaging your hallway.


Fynn Bailey can be reached at or online at @FynnBailey.