Just ‘GOA’ way already, won’t ya! A first-year student’s perspective on the GOA Journey Program

By: Micah Price

Softball assignments, monotonous diversity training, cliché antibullying videos, what should be common sense life skills, ice breakers that harken back to Manresa and coloring. Wouldn’t you resent being made to sit through this for no credit?

The transition to college is not an easy one. It takes time, diligence and, in many cases, a good set of friends to acclimate oneself to a completely new world. As a first-year, I know some days have been easier than others, but in the limited time I’ve been at Xavier, the university has shown itself to be a robust community of great people with amazing intentions. However, you can’t help people who don’t want to help themselves.

The singular page on the university’s website directly addressing “GOA: First Year Journey Program” does little to inform anyone (I’m thinking parents here) of what the program actually is. It tells us of the city of Goa, “Where St. Francis Xavier traveled to experience new opportunities, new cultures and new custom.” Other than that, the page is mired in ambiguity. Also, don’t look to the syllabus for help, as it doesn’t exceed a page and a half in 12-point font.

Also on the website, we’re told that, “Through GOA, you meet new people, develop new skills and create your own, individual plan for life, aiming like St. Francis to go forth and set the world on fire.” This statement is as bombastic as it is vague. It’s also a weak attempt to cast an inspirational shadow to mask what lies beneath: a rehashed version of Manresa that succeeds only in breeding resentment among the student body.

Price's QuoteFor those students who are privy to Yik-Yak, Twitter and the like, we have become familiar with frequent posts disparaging GOA. The popular jokes are often recycled, but my personal favorite is “GOA-way.” These sentiments were entrenched in first-year students almost immediately through social media, and it has become commonplace to hear things in passing that cannot be printed here for decency. In short, everyone hates GOA. Everyone. But why?

First, I think that most of us have a deep-seated post-Manresa PTSD that we have yet to recover from. From accounts of upperclassmen, this never fades. As previously stated, the two programs are seemingly intentionally similar, and this is one of the reasons it’s seen as something of a nuisance.

Second, there is a generality about youth that is, in my experience, appropriately cliché, in that we begrudge being made to do anything that is seemingly pointless. Yes, GOA is a two-semester ordeal that is pass/fail and for zero credit, but is it intrinsically worthless?

There are those who argue that GOA serves its purpose. The two questions the program attempts to help students answer according to the site: Who am I in this new environment? What do I want to accomplish at Xavier? Again, they could be more precise, as these questions are very broad and can be taken in many fashions, but regardless and truthfully, can it be said GOA fulfills these obligations?

Price's Pic
Micah Price is a first-year Philosophy, Politics and the Public & theatre major from Newburgh, Ind.

As the guinea pigs of this new program, we have every right to be skeptical about its theory, as well as its implementation, which obviously hasn’t been met with roars of approval from anyone involved. Time will tell if all these simplistic exercises and half-heartedly fulfilled assignments will actually prove to be helpful in turning us into the adults that we have to become.

But there comes a time when we have to ask: Could the problem actually be us? Are we as a class simply too immature and unappreciative to take the gracious opportunity being handed to us? Or, was GOA a good idea that has been put into practice rather poorly?

At this moment, we should remember that we’re not only investing in our education, but the whole lives we have ahead of us. I’m not saying that something you missed the day you decided to skip GOA will change your entire life, but let’s throw ourselves a bone, and at least show up, on the off chance that we could be wrong. After all, it is only an hour and fifteen minutes.