This past weekend here in Athens, home of Ohio University, the annual Palmer Street Fest took place. A time for under-aged (and some legal) undergraduate students to come together in large masses to get wasted, act like animals and light things on fire. Sounds like such a great time, eh?
Being that this is my blog, these are therefore my thoughts. I don't expect everyone to agree with me and I know many people may even spend a lot of time defending the actions of what happened at this spring quarter fest, but don't waste your breath talking to me about it. I simply expect more out of human-beings.
Higher education institutions were not created to be breeding havens for high risk drinking, unprotected sex, illegal drug use and animal-like behavior. Believe it or not, they are environments created to spur higher intellectual thinking, in depth study and leaders of the future. Many, and most institutions, stand on principles; motto's and mission statements--plenty are even religiously affiliated. Well, in my opinion, colleges and universities all across America are failing. Colleges that claim to stand for something but continue to allow such immature and ridiculous behavior to occur only allows me (and plenty of others) to formulate solid opinions about the lack of commitment to true higher education development.
My college years gave me so many deep and meaningful experiences. I grew so much because of the institution I went to and their desire to fulfill the mission of what our college stood for. How embarrassed we would be if we were known for such extreme drinking. Ohio University should be embarrassed--sadly by most they are known as nothing more than a drinking school.
And let's go back to the Palmer Fest of 2012. As if starting couches on fire each year was not barbaric enough, this year a house was started on fire. A house. Someone's dwelling place. There are plenty of poor and homeless people who would love to have a house--and yet drunk college kids manage to start their own house on fire. Such wise youth of our current age.
I don't want to say that all colleges are like this. Many are not, and yet many are. I will not single out OU as being the only breeding ground for such ridiculousness (it's just this in our first hand experience, we are living in and amongst it) just look at Kent State last weekend:
These kids are the over-privileged youth of America. How can we sit back and let this happen? Are we forgetting that under-aged drinking is illegal, that pot is illegal, that mass chaos and riots are dangerous? Are we forgetting what a gift college is and the abounding opportunities it gives each of us that others can only dream of?
My passion for this topic comes from several places. The first being, Matt is currently studying College Student Personnel (and I start the program in the fall), because of this we will always be living on or near a college campus. We will constantly be surrounded by this vibrant, young, and high potential demographic. We love this fact. I love seeing passionate young people--and college is the perfect place to become who you were meant to be. A time to step out and formulate opinions of your own. To discover what really makes you passionate. A time to demand truth about worldly issues, and a time to seek justice. College is such a wonderful thing--truly meant to stretch, pull and construct passionate young people of our country. Young people who will soon be our work force; our doctors, our teachers, our politicians, our leaders... our entire future. So yes, I love 18-21 year olds. The world is at the finger tips of students privileged enough to attend college. Where is the respect for such a gift? Higher education is a gift, not a right, and so many people who can't afford the opportunities that college provides can easily look at these youtube videos and ask the question of... "How is that fair? How does this make any sense?"
Another reason I am so fired up about this topic is the financial responsibility that someone is paying. Who is paying for the police force? The SWAT team? The National Guard? The mounted horse cops? The fire trucks, the EMS, the SWAT monster truck? The everrrrything? Tax payers... right? Whoever it is... it's not the people causing the problems and something is wrong with that. Personal responsibility is just another obvious thing that should be learned far before the college years... but trashing a different street each weekend and not caring about the clean-up shows me a total lack of concern, maturity, respect, integrity...
#yolo right? You only live once? Is that the motto of the youth of our nation? Hm. I swore life had purpose and passion. But I suppose I'm "old' and wouldn't know.
I would bet that if we collected all the time, money, energy and effort that went into the partying and clean-up of Palmer Fest this past weekend we could supply a small village in Africa with water, or make a significant impact on the poverty of Athens County. But no, time was spent getting wasted, starting a riot and cheering at the declaration of a riot zone. Police were taken away from other potential needs of the community. Family members of law enforcement sat at home wondering if their loved one was safe while they babysat drunken college kids.
I sound mad, and really it's because I kind of am. But more it's because I'm sad. I'm sad to say that this past event is factual history (supposedly even tame in some comparisons). It's in the books. It's written for all time. Ohio U is still a million steps away from being known as something more that a party school. And as a country we are still a million steps away from what we were meant to be.
Land of the free--maybe. But what about the land of integrity, hope, respect, honor? The home of intelligent, bright, limitless youth? What about caring for this earth we are guests of and what about respecting humanity enough to put aside meaningless, dangerous and barbaric acts to instead care about one another and actually make a difference in this world?
We grabbed lunch the morning after the street fest uptown. Matt over heard a girl who was making our lunch say: "I love fest season, it just means I can get wasted early, have sex with someone by early afternoon, go back to the fest-- drink more, and hook up again with someone new by night time." Really?.... "young, beautiful, full of potential girl" making my sandwich? This is what makes your life complete?
Humphhh :/ I promise you young people of this place (this country, this school)... life has the possibility to be about so so so much more, I promise, I promise, I promise.