Who’s In, and Who’s Out?


I had submitted the text below as a letter to the UNM Daily Lobo a few weeks ago. Apparently they didn’t want it.

As part of its rebranding initiative, UNM (in conjunction with its consultants, 160over90) crafted several pleasant-sounding slogans. One that piqued my interest recently is “Each of us defines all of us”. For if the UNM community is being called “us”, then who is “them”?

Humans have always organized themselves into groups. To have an “us” meant we defined the set of people who belonged to the group. And everyone else? They were “them”, outsiders who were not part of the group.

Groups of humans have identities, shared meaning, and common values, among other characteristics. To preserve the group means to preserve its identity, to defend the meaning which gave rise to the it in the first place, and to pass on the values which it holds. Anything less inevitably means the destruction of the group.

A group which encompasses the entirety of humanity is a contradiction in terms - it’s not a group, it’s a mass. It does not have an identity – after all, it’s an amalgamation of all differences among all human characteristics – and it consequently lacks shared meaning and values. Out of that mass naturally arises groups, which differentiate themselves from everyone else through the defining of “us” and “them”.

So I ask you, is the identity the University has created for itself consistent with your own? Does the campus and its inhabitants share your meaning and values? In the quiet of your mind, when you think of that slogan, who is the “us” you think of?

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