As a wondrous and, I may add, vastly improved year at The Minaret ends its course, I would foremost love to congratulate all of our graduating seniors. Sparing my poor attempt at a graduation speech – I’ll leave that to our more able and, in my opinion, finely chosen graduation speakers – I simply wish to honor them by pointing out the void that will be left at UT after their departure.
As the administration progressively raises tuition, they proclaim that they are also raising the standards regarding admission. Yet, as an observant student, I have some serious concerns that these reports are misleading. As new halls are built to accommodate the influx of new students, student apathy looks to be increasing in linear correlation. What good is accepting students with a higher GPA when Ybor City and “4/20” take precedence over intellectual cultivation?
Now I have no expertise in the business school, and it seems that the things the folks are accomplishing in the Sykes building are remarkable enough. I also have first-hand knowledge that there are groups of highly capable students swarming the College of Liberal Arts ‘ Sciences as well, but certain incidents that I have observed in the last week make me think twice. To illustrate, a friend of mine recently purchased a humorous and intentionally provocative t-shirt. It was titled “The Communist Party,” and contained a double entendre regarding the word “Party.” It featured significant Communist Party leaders – Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Castro – engaged in a collegiate party atmosphere equipped with rock music and plastic Dixie cups. For added emphasis, the shirt displayed front-and-center an incredibly large hammer and sickle.
Receiving his t-shirt in the mail, my friend deliberately waited to wear it until the day of the week when he had the most classes. Anticipating much inquisition, he had hoped to explain his shirt and engage in much discussion and many laughs. When the day was through and not one student had shown the slightest interest in his shirt, I requested that we take matters into our own hands.
Seeking out a group of students and explicitly asking them what they thought of the shirt, it turned out that most of the group immediately turned their attention to other matters. The one whose attention we managed to keep simply responded “I have a Friends Don’t Let Friends Wear Mullets shirt, so I definitely know where you’re coming from.”
Sarcastic shirts notwithstanding, a much more indicting case against a larger sample of UT students is found in an encounter I had the other day in Plant Hall. Walking through a crowded hall with a different friend, we were reviewing our World War II history generally, and making fun of Heinrich Himmler in particular. Referring back to an interesting discovery we made earlier, I asked my friend what Himmler’s last known words were. My friend, perhaps not considering the potential consequences, quickly obliged by way of dramatic reinterpretation, pausing in the middle of the second floor to shout, “I am Heinrich Himmler!”
When not one of the multitudes of students traveling through the floor even so much as gave us a glance, we figured there were only two explanations. One possibility is that no one within shouting range in Plant Hall had the slightest clue who Heinrich Himmler was. The other, of course, is that the students recognized the name but had no problem with a student shouting out “I am Heinrich Himmler” in the middle of the University’s chief building.
Needless to say, neither possibility speaks kindly of our student body. Nevertheless, I would prefer that the students didn’t recognize Himmler’s name. Otherwise, apathy has reached a new level on campus, where publicly extolling chief Nazis doesn’t even raise an eyebrow.
I hope that I’m being too hasty in my judgment. It would please me to see the student population, upon reading this article, raise its voice and denounce the charges of apathy. Unfortunately, this seems unlikely, being that the student population, by and large, doesn’t even bother to read its student-run publication.
My intention is not to insult the UT student body. I genuinely admire our current graduating class, and I know that they have collectively earned their degree with their immense academic achievement. As they leave us behind, it is worth noting the emerging problem of student apathy that seems poised to become increasingly worse. As The Minaret deserves congratulations for its positive transformation this past year, perhaps it can become the organization that tackles this problem when the fall semester begins.