Students should stop complaining

Eric Norris - Student Senate President

Eric Norris – Student Senate President

Eric Norris

The common age-old saying among Missouri Southern students is, “there is nothing to do on campus.” The common response to that, from those of us involved in the planning and organizing of campus activities, is “what do you want to do?” And unfortunately that’s where the communication stops.

As Student Senate president, I am involved with the planning and organizing of campus activities, and all too often the job is more frustrating than fun. The frustration sets in when a newly formed pep club (Gang Green), created to have fun and inspire cheer at sporting events, struggles to get 10 people involved. Frustration builds when a campus of almost 6,000 can’t get 36 people to fill a Senate, and at times struggles to have 10 students attend a Campus Activities Board meeting. The sad frustration hits when we have to offer students money to attend football and basketball games, only to have a lot of people show up and leave immediately after the winner is announced. I’ve heard it said that Southern is just too much like a high school. My only response to that is that at times I wish it were more like a high school atmosphere. In high school, students actually have school spirit and enjoy going to activities without being bribed to attend. I applaud those students who have made the effort to attend activities thus far in the semester. I thank those who have turned in Senate petitions and especially those who voted for senators this week. I truly do thank you. And for those student readers who feel like their Student Senate president is harping on them, don’t get angry just yet. I am a student myself, and I see the problems that do exist on this campus.

The problems on our campus are its size, and that it is a commuter campus. The unfortunate thing about those problems is that they can’t be fixed. Southern will forever be a commuter campus. However, we must find ways to overcome. The growing trend among colleges and universities these days is to include campus activities and campus life with academics. An undergraduate degree is no longer a major recruiting tool. A major concern for potential students is what opportunities they have outside of the classroom. Through my involvement with campus activity planning, I have had the opportunity to tour area campuses. After touring a campus such as Pittsburg State University one comes back to Southern almost depressed.

Now I know that is not quite a fair comparison. But at the same time, we compete with schools like that so we must find a way to replicate what they do in a scaled down version to fit our campus. Universities around the nation are spending millions on projects that improve campus activity programming. Universities are building multimillion-dollar recreation and student life centers, aqua parks, ice skating rinks and even 18-hole golf courses.

The issue of whether or not to build a recreation center on this campus has been in the planning stages for five years. While other universities are enjoying success directly related to their facilities, we continue to plan. It seems that every decision that gets made is based on whether or not it makes “academic sense.” For some reason decision makers do not realize the importance of recreation and leisure time to a student’s academic success. This project is crucial to increasing recruitment, retention, improving campus life and student participation in activities. On behalf of the student body, I urge administration to put more emphasis on this issue and complete the project.

I would like to raise a challenge to the student body.

I challenge each of you to get involved. Don’t wait. Join one of Southern’s 80-plus student organizations, attend a CAB meeting and help plan activities. And, if that’s not what your looking for, support our athletic programs by showing your pride and support at every home game. You might actually find out that there is more to do on campus than you think.