Column - Student culture promotes unhealthy, damaging habits
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 26, 2012 01:04
Surreal is probably the word that best describes what I’m feeling right now. Knowing that this is my last column for The Daily Athenaeum and that in another nine days I’ll finally leave Morgantown; it does not seem real. Frankly, I’ll believe it when I see it.
Even though I am one of the few and proud to have attended West Virginia University for four years – and able to leave after only four– it still feels like I’ve been here too long. I know that this is probably not the right sentiment to have, or what people want to read, but I have been waiting to get out of this college, this environment and this town for a whole year now.
Don’t get me wrong, Morgantown and the University have plenty to offer, but after four years of being inundated by this environment, I am burnt out. The rampant immaturity, the wanton destructiveness, the pride in drinking until blacking out, the people failing at classes that aren’t even that hard to begin with– I’m just tired of pretending that all of these are somehow normal and constructive habits for people to have.
College, and college towns, can be great opportunities for students to explore who they are and try new things from trial and error. But there comes a certain point where this goes from being constructive to being destructive. That so many students end up staying here longer than intended, because of having to retake failed classes, or dropping out altogether, should come as no surprise. The atmosphere has become one where bad habits and self-destructive behavior are the norm.
This constant group reinforcement attracts that element here, entrenching it even further into a bubble of bad decisions. The goal has changed from getting an education and a degree to just surviving four years in this environment.
None – and I mean none – of the extracurricular habits students learn here will help them in the real world and, if anything, they will be millstones around their necks they will have to overcome. Day-drinking, smashing bottles, staying up for days at a time on Ader-all because you were too busy constantly partying to do your homework, the list goes on.
Letting loose after completing a big test, term paper or a hard week of classes is one thing, but to constantly binge drink night after night just because you can, is another thing entirely.
Hate to break it you, but the days of drinking on the job – not to mention viewing females as one-dimensional sexual objects – left with "Mad Men."
I don’t pretend to have any cures for this dramatic lack of personal respect, and respect for others, other than to "Keep calm and carry on." You’ll be out of here sooner than you realize it and be a stronger person for it.
If you can survive this baptism of fire though, you can be well prepared for almost anything the world throws at you. Being able to be in the thick of temptations and avoid them builds character and control. These are the things that classrooms can never teach you; learning through your mistakes and being stronger for them.
For those joining me in the exodus into the real world, and not delaying the inevitable by hiding in graduate school, the adventure is just beginning.
The best part about moving on – as someone who was born in California, lived in Puerto Rico and ended up in West Virginia – is that’s when you finally get to zero in on what made you like the place.
Those feelings of longing that slowly bubble up over time fade away, bringing to the surface the things and people we missed most. In realizing them, we can revisit the people and places we once had mixed feelings for, but do so in a way that concentrates more on the positive and dismisses the negative. Only by leaving an environment we once considered too comfortable to leave can we truly isolate what made it feel so comfortable in the first place.
I wish all my fellow graduates a happy and safe journey, and that wherever it may take you, to never forget the country roads that first brought you home.