When Bowdoin students were confronted with Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast in his series “Revisionist History,” the most frequent response I heard—aside from justified criticisms of Gladwell’s journalistic ethics—was one of incredulity. How could Bowdoin be criticized for its financial aid policies—the same policies that receive so much praise for their generosity? In conversations and in social media, it appeared that it was almost sacrilegious to criticize Bowdoin for not giving more as this contrasted with the prevailing attitude on campus. But the reality of the situation is a little more complicated: as “Inside Higher Ed” reported in July, Bowdoin does not give as many Pell Grants as some of our peer schools, including Amherst and Williams. Further, we do not necessarily have the financial diversity that campus attitude would have us believe: a recent New York Times report listed schools where there were “more students from the top 1 percent than the bottom 60 percent”—out of the 38 schools in the U.S. where this is true, Bowdoin is listed as No. 25.

I see the response to Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast as part of the larger problem of Bowdoin’s culture of gratitude. It is one which I see created by the administration and socially enforced by students. Bowdoin drills into us a need to be thankful. Administrators make a point to remind us that not every school does so much to ensure the well-being and happiness of its students—look at all of the resources available to us! This is then reinforced by perks—from lobster bakes to the abundance of talks we have been treated to this semester.

We begin to offer stock responses whenever someone begins a complaint. Criticisms of the unappealing options at the dining hall are often met by others’ reminders of how Bowdoin has such good food generally—after all, we’re ranked as the second-best school for food in the country. Obviously, this is a light example. But the attitude extends to issues of much greater importance—individuals are often loath to criticize Bowdoin’s various services or responses to campus issues, or when they do criticize them, frequently feel the need to qualify their statements by stating how generous Bowdoin is for what it does have. Overall, the prevailing attitude seems to be: what is the point of complaining when things are so good for us?

And, generally, things are good. I am grateful for Bowdoin’s various resources, care for our well-being and all of the various perks. I would not want to see them go away. However, like every other college in the country, Bowdoin isn’t perfect. There is room for improvement on a number of meaningful issues—the diversity of faculty, our role in the environment and our role as a social agent, just to name a few. But this culture of gratitude frequently prevents important change from taking place and breeds complacency. Even more importantly, this attitude frequently stifles even the discussion of potential change. When we reinforce the idea that Bowdoin has done so much for us, it often appears silly to desire improvement.

The logic behind these arguments isn’t sound. Just because we are doing well in some areas does not mean that we cannot still do better. A reminder of the benefits we have at Bowdoin is important—but ultimately so that we can continue to improve upon them. Speaking out isn’t shameful, it’s productive to a better school and society. In this column, I will aim to address not only larger issues on Bowdoin’s campus and beyond, but also ‘the little things.’ Above all, I will advocate for changes, even when they may seem trivial. While this may be seen as irritating complaining—and I wouldn’t necessarily argue with this characterization—I believe that we need constant reminders that we should never be satisfied with the status quo, whether it’s at Bowdoin or in society at large.

Rachel Baron is a member of the Class of 2017.