Editorial - Back to the drawing board
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 13:10
Wednesday, West Virginia University students received another one of those emails from Vice President for Student Affairs Ken Gray and SGA President Zach Redding about how they should celebrate the accomplishments of their sports teams more responsibly.
These emails have become somewhat of a tradition at WVU, as reckless student behavior has attracted negative attention for the University on a regular basis. The fact this problem has persisted over the years, despite these vigilant emails, suggests there is a significant, deep-seated problem at WVU that needs to be addressed in a much more assertive, comprehensive manner.
Tuesday, President James P. Clements denounced the destructive behavior from the past weekend in his annual State of the University address, outlining a number of steps the University plans to take, including a stronger security presence after games, and an increase in the number of surveillance cameras around campus.
Although it is certainly a positive development that the University is acknowledging the problem and taking steps to deal with it, it’s going to take more than a few reactive measures to resolve this issue.
There is a problem with the culture at WVU. This fact is underscored by the consistent flaring up of this problem on a yearly basis. Increasing the security presence, instituting harsh punishments and sending out polite emails are not going to transform the student culture in Morgantown.
If the University administration genuinely wants to make WVU a school that is known for its academics as opposed to being notorious for the frenzied behavior of its students, it’s going to have to accept the inconvenient truth that this problem is not limited to "a small number of students," as we are all continually reminded.
"A small number of students" don’t make WVU the No. 1 ranked party school in the country. "A small number of students" don’t ignite 35 fires in one night. An angry mob pelting bottles at police fitted in riot gear is not comprised of "a small number of students."
Again, there is a cultural problem here that permeates a significant portion of the student body. Even if the behavior itself is restricted to a small number of individuals, there can be no denying it is widely celebrated throughout the student body.
An increased police presence and harsh punishments will not instantly transform this broken culture. Such an undertaking will require long-term actions that target the root of the problem. These actions should include an evaluation of the University’s admissions standards, which should be aimed at creating a better student body, even if it may not be a larger one.
The coming days will reveal whether the University’s pleas for sanity will have any impact at all. WVU’s recent history when it comes to these incidents suggests it might be time for a new approach.