Tuesday, January 21, 2014

You Think I'm Apathetic? I Don't Care

By Colton Hattersley, EPPS Blogger

Upon going home over winter break, I was faced with several very interesting questions: have you gotten drunk yet? How are the drugs up in Dallas? Why do you even care? It caught me off guard, to be honest – it was as if people back home had forgotten who I was and what I stood for. This presents an interesting and very serious question for us to evaluate. Why do college students have such a poor reputation, and what can we do to change that?

First, let’s look at drinking. The common perception of the college kid includes someone who goes to parties every night and is caught up in underage drinking. At many universities across America, this perception holds a degree of truth to the matter. One of the great things about being at UT Dallas, however, is that this atmosphere of partying and alcohol isn’t as prominent. Because of the degree of academic prowess our student body holds, there is a minimum of underage drinking and partying that is going on.

Second, let’s evaluate the issue of drugs. With the debate on marijuana legalization jumping in and out of the national spotlight, it is hardly surprising that many college students are experimenting both with marijuana and other illegal drugs. Though it is close to a metropolitan area, which by its very nature would be perceived to promote the use of drugs, UT Dallas manages to deflect or at least minimize the impact that drugs can have. With a student body that cares about what they are doing, and who generally don’t want to jeopardize their education, the drug problem that is seen across both the state and nation has not been able to achieve fruition.

Third, and finally, let’s look at apathy. The college student is perceived to be this creature that exemplifies apathy through the way he or she dresses, speaks, and acts. Public opinion would dictate that we all wear pajamas to classes everyday, speak in slow and very simplistic vocabulary, and move sluggishly with everything we do. Apathy is expected to lead us to procrastination, failure, and ultimately this status of dropping out.

As seen with the other two examples, UT Dallas students aren’t like most students. While there is always going to be that one guy who shows up in a dinosaur suit to your government class, people generally care about how they present themselves and therefore make an effort to at dress appropriately.

With classes at UT Dallas being both rigorous and insightful, students are constantly discussing the things covered in lecture to better understand the material. This allows for an intellectual and scholarly discussion that conflicts with the expectation society has placed on college students.

So next time I go back home, and get asked the same questions, I won’t be caught off guard. With public perception of college kids at a dangerously low level, we must work to fight against this label. Being at UT Dallas, we have been provided an environment capable of not only keeping us safe, but also of revolutionizing perceptions and making positive changes in the world. Next time I’m asked about my “lazy college life,” I will have one simple response – Not me, and not at UT Dallas. 

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