College is supposed to be the best time of your life. So far, I have enjoyed it. I have met great friends, gotten a job and became very involved in activities.
The weekends, however, are not always as fun. Many of my friends—like many of the students here—are from South Dakota. They tend to go home often on the weekends. I am from a suburb of Chicago so the luxury of going home is not in the cards.
I also do not drink. I know, it may sound lame, but I have never had an interest in drinking. I can still have fun without alcohol, but the weekends here consist of: drinking.
How can this be changed? I think there are many ways we can improve this idea of a “suitcase school” – a college where students pack their suitcases and head home after their last class on Friday.
“Challenge yourself to stay on the weekends,” said Lindsay Sparks, assistant director of student life. “The weekend is supposed to be your time to enjoy.”
If you don’t believe me, have you seen the Coyote Crazies section at a football game (except D-Days and USD vs SDSU, those are obviously exceptions)?
To become less of a suitcase school the problem can be addressed beginning in admissions and marketing relations. The University has a tremendous base from South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and parts of Minnesota. I think they need to venture out.
We have some great programs here: the Disaster Mental Health Institute, the medical school, our political science department, a great business school and all of the other highly regarded programs at this campus. The best part though – the cost.
It is cheaper for me to be an out of state student at University of South Dakota student than an in-state student at any Illinois public and private school.
If USD began recruiting east of the Mississippi River the school may grow tremendously. The only thing standing in the way is, the stigma. To be honest, I never heard of the University of South Dakota and didn’t know much about the state except for Mount Rushmore. Now, my views have changed about the state because there is so much more than that.
The university is continuing to provide more weekend activities such as Movies at the MUC for students to enjoy.
“Immerse yourself in the campus community,” Sparks said.
She recommends going to things you never thought of going to such as a symphony concert or track and field meet.
Getting more students to attend these university-sponsored weekend activities is vital in getting rid of the “suitcase school” mentality.
One thing that may help is the new addition on the Muenster University Center. I think USD did a fantastic job creating a place for the students and university to come together.
Now, if only more people stayed on Saturday and Sunday to utilize the MUC.
Follow Michael Geheren on Twitter @mgeheren