In my almost two and a half years at the University of La Verne I have come to despise a saying that seems to enjoy never-ending popularity at this institution: “Get involved. You will have so much fun.” Get involved in what?
Do not get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with involvement. On the contrary. However, there is meaningful and less meaningful involvement.
Meaningful involvement includes participation in such organizations as the African-American Student Alliance (AASA), the Associated Student Federation (ASF) Forum, the Latino Student Forum (LSF), the Marxist, Leftist, Anarchist (MLA) Collective, the Free Tibet Society or Voices of Independent and Educated Women (VIEW). Moreover, even though that kind of organization would not rock my boat, whatever happened to the Young Republicans?
Although most of these and other meaningful organizations exist on campus, some students do not seem to refer to them when they use the above-mentioned phrase. It seems that being involved at this University means to put up tons of corny posters in the Student Center, paint the Rock, get elected to the Homecoming court and run around with letters on one’s sweater.
Greeks should not feel too harshly attacked at this point. Philanthropy, which to my knowledge is an integral part of Greek life, is very meaningful. Nevertheless, wasting paper at the Student Center and putting up shallow messages about how proud one is of somebody else is not a part of meaningful involvement.
Furthermore, I really do not care whether somebody has to cut his hair or not. If people have too much time on their hands and so much energy, why do they not put it to good use and do something that is actually going to make a difference?
Talking about not making a difference, are the Homecoming court elections anything more than a superficial popularity contest? The hysterical screaming at illumination does not help either.
Contrary to apparent popular belief, this is a University, not a high school, despite the size of the main campus. This is an institution of higher learning, not a circus. Precisely because of its size, the University should concentrate mainly on academics. Larger schools might have the money to be a school and a circus at the same time; I do not think La Verne does.
Granted, social involvement and having fun is important. There is nothing wrong with that. But again, there are two ways of having fun and being socially involved. If it comes naturally, it is real. If it is forced, it is fake. The same is true for school spirit. It is either there or it is not. No “Leo Pride” sign or Alma Mater will create school pride if it is not there.
School spirit at a small school like ULV might be found more easily in the fact that it is a good school with several award-winning departments. Many people may not have time to get involved in either a political or a Greek organization and that is OK. There is nothing wrong with simply being a good scholar and excelling in one’s field. The person silently reading a newspaper might end up being more involved than the one screaming in the spotlight. The important thing is to get one’s priorities straight. Have fun and play powder puff but do not forget that you are at a university.
College students are supposed to be the leaders of tomorrow. What is tomorrow going to look like if its leaders are indifferent to politics and the issues that really matter?
Michael Anklin, a junior journalism and history major, is editorial director of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.