Partying, Drugs, and Wal-Mart: A Concerned Student Addresses Cullowhee Culture

Dear Editor,

For the past 15 years Western Carolina University has been most commonly known as a party school. That’s why people come here, that’s why people have always come here, and that’s what will continue to motivate people to continue to come here. How many times each week to you see people coming back to this school, despite having graduated three to four years earlier, just to party one more time? They get out in the real world and can’t handle it, or maybe they can handle it, but they just don’t want to. This University completely secludes you from the outside world. It’s like the Valley is a trap, it pulls you in and you stay.(peer pressure’s a b—-, huh?) They speak of all the technology involved. Oh yeah it’s here alright, too bad that’s all that’s here. I live in an apartment, but I sometimes visit people in the dorms and I constantly see people surfing the web, playing Play Station 2, and watching T.V. Wonder why that is? Maybe because Western’s students don’t want to join any of the 150 different organizations. Outside of the organizations, which only include a small percentange of the actual student population. The only social place we have to go to really is O’Malley’s and sometimes J. Edwards. But the legalities involved in the distribution of alcohol limit that. Why can’t we just have a little bar to go to and just chill? Who cares if they sell more alcohol than food? What communist came up with that law? No wonder people sit around and get high all day. It takes the edge off. Because there is not much to do here; your mind has nothing else to think about except the constant reminders of the stress of college. We don’t even have any legitimate working opportunities, unless you want to drive to Cashiers and wait tables, (30 minute drive up a mountain there, and 25 minutes down the mountain back.) Basically an hour of driving every time you go to work. What college student wants to drive that much? No one, but some people have no choice. These people opt to work for the University where you work your tails off for minimum wage, in addition to this you only get paid once a month. Hell, by then you’ve already forgotten how much you’ve honestly worked and you don’t even know if your even getting paid appropriately. You recieve a huge check once a month, pay the bills, and blow the rest. Basically, you stay broke. And it stinks.

We are what some may call at the prime time in our lives, wasting it away at a pretty little hole in Western North Carolina. Don’t get me wrong, yes it is extemely beautiful up here, but looking at something pretty and beautiful like the Fall leaves, and the rolling hills can only be entertaining for so long. Yeah, in the summer time the River is a lot of fun, but that same refreshing water is awfully cold come August and November. There is honestly nothing else to do. Is it because the University doesn’t do that great a job of recruiting more coorporations to come to our school? Well, that is up for debate. Along with a multitude of other things. It is not solely the University’s fault, but more directly a reflection of the type of people who attend this university. I’m not knocking drug use completely, but I do feel that it is an issue that needs to be talked about. Why is it an issue? Because there isn’t anything else to do here but drugs. It’s easier for a freshmen to get Ecstasy than beer. And you don’t even have to drive 3.5 miles to get it. I saw a bumper sticker that said it best: “Drugs are bad, but the Drug War is worse.” Think about it. It is after all a battle that can’t be won. As long as there is free time and a needful desire for pleasure, drugs will be used. And that’s fine if that is what you want to do. But think if we all got involved and somehow got major businesses to come to our school like Hooters or some type of dance club that could actually last. Do you guys not miss dancing at Baily’s and Crossroads? Don’t you hate having to drive to Thunder Ridge just to have a good time? It all goes back to that bullcrap law that states you gotta sell more food than alcohol. 51% food 49% alcohol minimum. We’ll that’s great for O’Malley’s, but what if we’re sick of eating the hot wings, and listening to the Caribbean Cowboys. (Now Bobby’s band is a different story.) It is amazing what we will resort to when total and complete boredom takes over our lives. Lack of complete motivation is so prevelant at this school. I am just as guilty. Sometimes I just drive to Wal-Mart to check out the locals. (Hey, it’s entertaining.) But they will always live their simple lives, and that’s fine. But what’s a guy to do when simplicity isn’t what’s being looked for? A prime example of the lack of interest involved in our school is the number of people involved in the George W. Bush survey that you have conducted on your website. There were 25 total responses, as of March 1, 2001. People just don’t care because we honestly don’t feel that we are being cared for. The same old stuff every weekend and every day. It’s comparable to high-school, of course without the constant hounding from your parents that used to always remind you of how important it is to succeed in life. I personally don’t want to begin my career as soon as I graduate. Mainly because of the major that I am in, Criminal Justice. From my personal experience in Criminal Justice there is one common unspoken phrase. “It’s really not what crime you have committed or what offense that has taken place, but rather who you know and how much money you have to put on the line to cover your butt.”

So why don’t students here want to actively participate in the various student organizations the university has to offer? Because the bottom line is that people don’t really give a rat’s @$$. Maybe it’s because the people attending the University, including myself, do not really feel that the “Higher Powers” governing our school give a flip about us. It’s all about the money. As long as they continue to fine people a hundred dollars for smokin’ some pot, or fine the parking violators 10 and 20 dollars a pop, and not to mention the mandatory policy that states only 50 dollars can carry over each semester on your meal card, we will continue not to participate. I’m telling you, these are issues that really bother parents and students. Sorry if I sound far fetched, but it sounds like a conspiracy to me. Come on guys, unless the PEOPLE start voicing their opinions about the twisted policies the University has on its students, then the University will continue to take away from our “meaningful experience.” Our university is, and has been for a while, trying to totally take away from the entire social experience. I mean really we have to turn on MTV just to see what’s going on in our “young adult world.” The radio station is a flop, praise God for CD burners and Napster.

And about athletics……. wonder why the complete department is struggling? Mainly because there is “absolutely” not a damn thing to do at this school. That’s why our athletic recruiters must travel halfway across the country to get someone to play college ball here, regardless what the sport. Maybe that is why our athetic department is struggling? This school was so much more enjoyable when there wasn’t so much pressure on the Greeks. It seems as if there is constant pressure on a group of people who really “just want to have a little fun.” It is almost as if “they,” whomever “they” may be are taking the fun out of Cullowhee. Just look at the freshmen parking lots on the weekends, they’re empty. That’s evidence enough to know that something unsucessful is going on within our Universities “management.” Instead of wasting money on the outward appearence of Dodson, that’s taken almost a year to complete. Wait, what am I talking about? There’s nothing complete about Dodson. Anyway, why not try solving the problem from the inside. Like lowering the prices on food that’s not even worth eating, its disgusting; Brown, the same way, low quality left-overs at an overpriced rate.

Concerned,Matthew D. Kennedy