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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.

  • Seth

    Perhaps the problem is demo­nizing stu­dents’ behavior. The college does a good job of making it seem inap­pro­priate to be a normal twenty-some­thing year old. Perhaps if you weren’t making them feel like they were doing some­thing wrong, they wouldn’t feel like they had to hide.

    • anwofa

      What an idiotic comment. You can, quite easily, find the “normal” stu­dents you desire among the literal mil­lions just at state/public uni­ver­sities, all across the country. Go explore those places instead. Don’t con­de­scend to any one college for trying to instill its own unique dis­ci­pline and char­acter in its own stu­dents. This process is the original point of college, despite you.
      (“Normal.” Why do you get to decide what that word means?)

      • Seth

        Why do you get to decide that you’re special?

  • Seth

    Don’t be so close minded is all I’m saying. Calling someone with con­tra­dictory morals an idiot and telling them to go away shows very weak char­acter, I might add. I will crit­icize, because this is my college, and I am one of its stu­dents. A liberal arts edu­cation doesn’t teach you to hide away from the world, relent­lessly loyal to some vague moral dogma. If that’s the college’s ori­gional point, then they shouldn’t teach their stu­dents how to think.

    I don’t decide what’s normal. Drinking is normal. People have been drinking for a very long time, and probably won’t stop for a very long time. How’s that for the per­manent things, eh?

  • Ang

    Seth, the college doesn’t demonize student behavior, the college simply helps stu­dents acquire knowledge. I agree with you that the liberal arts edu­cation should helps stu­dents gain knowledge. I also think a lot of knowledge about life is intu­itive. I would appre­ciate your opinion, what do you think? Seth, do you think it is right to do “normal” college behavior, such as getting drunk? Do you think that’s the best way for a human to spend his pre­cious time of life? Do you think there is any­thing better a person should do with his time, any­thing more noble or higher?
    Since you call the college demo­nizing stu­dents behavior, the question is whether getting drunk, behaving irre­spon­sibly is intrin­si­cally morally wrong. And I think most of us have this knowledge. If getting drunk is wrong, then people auto­mat­i­cally feel guilty for it when they have their senses, and, when a pro­fessor asks stu­dents to not drink, she is just encour­aging them to live their lives. And isn’t a goal of knowledge to show us how to live our lives?

  • seth

    Firsat of all, there’s a big dif­ference between being a drunk and being drunk. Hillsdale stu­dents do a lot of good work spend the majority of their time being pro­ductive members of society and good cit­izens and so on and so forth. Taking a weekend night and deciding to drink alcohhol in the company of good friends, or go a big fun campus wide event, full of stu­dents and fun, and mix in a little alcohol because alcohol makes fun a lot more fun, is really not some­thing to look down upon.

    I don’t think the problem is any behav­ioral con­flict with the grand moral code which is secretly written across the uni­verse, but you people and your dis­po­sition towards people with dif­ferent values than your­selves. Here’s a tip: if you want people to respond kindly to your pre­cieved better way of life, don’t talk down to them. Have the con­fi­dence to just shut up and actually show them by example that your way of life is better. People will respond kinder to smiles than they will to frowns.

    Ulti­mately, you can’t objectify human beings. So, stop it. Each person has their own life to live and is ulti­mately going to have to figure out what is most valuable to them and how to achieve the greatest value in out of their life.

  • Ang

    All I have to say is that I’m sorry if you feel as if I was talking down toward you – I hon­estly was not trying to do that. I don’t want to sound like I’m being arrogant, because I’m not.
    My faith in God makes me realize that I can with Paul say “I’m the worst of all sinners, but I’ve found grace and mercy through Jesus, who died for me.” I know I’ve done things worse than drinking. And I also know that God has for­given me because He died for me; his for­giveness is not earned by any­thing I have done. So please don’t think I’m trying to sound superior. A lot of people who dis­courage others from drinking do so not to sound superior, but because they care. I’ve seen a lot of people harmed from drinking too much, and I also think that, in the long run, people enjoy life more by not getting drunk. So, ulti­mately, it’s usually because people care that they defend morals, like being sober. I am NOT trying to create a feigned, arrogant, stance of pretend supe­ri­ority. And I am sin­cerely sorry if my words led you to think I was trying to do that.