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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.