Last spring, my husband and I, along with my brother and his girlfriend, made our way from our house over to the grassy field where the year’s most anticipated event was underway. Centralhallapalooza, I hoped, would be just as delightful as it had been when I was a student, and perhaps even better, because alumni friends of mine were working the counter in the beer tent.
Fairly quickly upon arriving, I spotted one of my journalism students walking toward me. “Hello!” I said, excited to see a face I recognized among the masses. The student waved and mumbled a brief “hi” and then moved away, surrounded by peers.
This happened several more times throughout the evening. I posted something on Facebook about my students being afraid to say hi to me. Was I that uncool? Is it not fun to talk to your professors at a social gathering?
A fellow alum promptly replied: “They’re not afraid, they’re drunk.”
Ah ha. Perhaps I had been naive.
Suddenly, I felt awkward and out of place. I didn’t want to observe students I knew bumping and grinding and making out — but I did. I went to Centralhallapalooza to support the student bands and the Student Activities Board. But, it was nearly impossible to socialize with anyone I knew who was an undergraduate because, for the most part, they were intoxicated and afraid to attempt conversation with a college employee. I don’t blame them for having a good time. But should they have thought about whom they might see at the event before drinking so much that it embarrassed them to be seen by an adult? Or should I have avoided the event, knowing that there would be far more students in attendance than employees?
I have a lot of respect for Hillsdale students in general and especially for those I get to know through the journalism program and the Collegian.
In general, the caliber of Hillsdale students’ behavior is something to be admired. But sometimes, like at Centralhallapalooza, I am disappointed by what I see. I also had a good time as a student, but I hope I tried to keep in mind that this is a small community and a professor I respect could have been pretty much anywhere at anytime, and I should probably be on my best behavior.
It is difficult to see a student I know and respect behaving inappropriately in public (generally the only place I see students off-campus) and then have them show up to class on Monday, acting like nothing happened.
We are all members of the Hillsdale community. Let’s act like it.