Who knew that such a timeless childhood phenomenon could have so many different applications?

Bear with me as I recall the first time I dipped a small plastic stick with a ring at the end into a jar full of soap, removed it and blew into a glossy circle.  Then, a seemingly magical thing happened—the soap came out of the other side as little circular balls floating around in the air.

I would swat at them and try to catch them in amazement.  And if I were lucky, sometimes one of the bubbles would stay for a little while on my hand.  It almost seemed to have a mind of its own, and then it would pop, gone forever.

As I got older, I began to see that the word “bubble” was not only applicable to the bubbles from the container.

I learned there were such things as bubble baths, bubble wrap, champagne bubbles, thought bubbles, bubble screens and economic bubbles.

Upon arrival at the University, I began to hear a new colloquial phrase—the Villanova bubble.  Last time I checked, there was no bubble surrounding campus nor were there students gallivanting around blowing bubbles.

Thought bubbles,  maybe, but there were no tangible bubbles that I could see or touch.  But one day, somebody explained exactly what this meant.

The University’s campus is a part of an area called the Main Line,  a suburb of Philadelphia.  Long ago, it became an area in which Philadelphia’s wealthiest families settled down.

As of 2011, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that the 19085 zip code, encompassing the towns of Radnor and Villanova, was the 30th richest zip code in the country.  The average household income was reported to be $270,720 and the average household net worth at $1,353,580.

A similar trend persists up and down the long stretch of the Main Line in many of the towns making it one of the wealthiest areas in the nation.

Thus, the University often attracts students of similar economic backgrounds.  Even more telling of the wealthy areas in the United States is the close proximity to areas that are not quite as well off economically.

Take a trip down to some of the more impoverished areas in Philadelphia and one will begin to notice things start to change.

The grass is not as green, the homes are not as nice, the streets are dirtier, the Whole Foods stores begin to disappear and the skin color begins to change.

Back on the Main Line, the student body is 79 percent white and 21 percent domestic minorities. All different students from all different backgrounds and experiences coalesce here.

Back to the bubble, as college students, sometimes we forget how lucky we are to be in college, and we also forget that there are people who are different from us.

And sometimes we forget that throwing 6,500 students in one place means that we might not always get along due to what we are and not necessarily who we are.

Next time you find yourself in one of the University’s many eateries, look around.  You will likely see food, windows, chairs, tables, TVs, forks, knives and napkins.

Take a second look and you will see people, and ask yourself what kind of people you see and with whom they are sitting?

Athletes sitting with athletes, white people sitting with white people aside from the occasional dots of non-whites at those tables.  Black students sitting with black students, Hispanic students sitting with Hispanic students.

This, of course, is probably something that may not cross your mind.  You may be thinking, what does it matter?

It matters because that scene from “Mean Girls” detailing in comical fashion the sociology of the cafeteria still happens, and we continue to isolate ourselves.  Am I asking you to go sit with someone else?  No, but I am asking you to be aware.

The bubble surrounds us all in many different ways.  Whether it is a lack of interaction with those who are different from you or simply not seeing the various systems of privilege, segregation and obliviousness, the bubble surrounds all of us.



Sam Ellison is a senior political science and communication major. If you would like to know more about the series of upcoming articles this semester,  he can be reached at sellis03@villanova.edu.


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