Since this isn’t likely to ever see the light of day in print form, I guess I’ll go ahead and put it here. That’s what I have this silly thing (er … blog) for, anyway, right?
(The Best and Worst of MSU Campus Culture)
1. In an interview that didn’t really happen, Jane C Anystudent had this to say about campus culture: “Yeah. So, we totally stand around sometimes on the mall, by what’s it called? Admin Hall? Over there by Reid? Anyhow, so we stand around and talk, and sometimes someone like Jimmy will come ride up on his bike and, like, join our circle for a while before saying something chill like ‘hey, guys, I’ll check ya later. I gotta pedal on.’”
2. Of course, there IS the conspicuous lack of parking garages on campus. As a perspective student, I was skeptical: what kind of college campus doesn’t have a large, ugly and expensive parking garage dominating some part of lower campus? What’s with all these damn hippies, riding their bikes and taking the bus? What about carbon emissions? What about Bozeman’s needy and deserving contractors?
3. Amidst my tirade, however, I should take a moment to compliment MSU on its pointed absence of a campus-wide recycling program. You would think, with all these hippies and ski-bums, Montana Hall would have kowtowed to popular demand and done the socially responsible thing. But not so! In addition to steely resolve, the administration dodges and demurs with the skillful craft of, say, our current national administration. Besides, we have Mountains and Minds! Mountains to mine and minds to mine ‘em! Mountains to bury mountains of trash! It takes guts for MSU to stand against conservation. But bravo, sir: you’ve stood your ground with admirable (if negligent) tenacity thus far! MSU has its priorities right: football stadiums! research buildings! We’re blue and gold-—not green, silly!
5. Speaking of culture, MSU has quite a vibrant online community. Expectedly, the new MyPortal system has been an astonishing success. In another interview that didn’t really happen, John H. Liesalot had nothing but good to say about MyPortal: “it’s wonderful, really, that the university provides such a great service. As a matter of fact, I think it’s the best email system I’ve ever used. And, I mean, I’ve used a lot!”
In a series of interviews that DID actually happen, I collected some somewhat different responses: “No. I use Gmail. It didn’t work and I stopped trying to access it.” “Um. Not very much… I’m glad we can forward our mail.” “Still setting it up here. Can’t get it to work.” “My profs use different things.” “I probably should, but I don’t.” In fact, in a half dozen interviews, I didn’t manage to find anyone who used MyPortal. I’m sure there’s a vibrant community there, though—-at least among MSU’s most persistent and patient.
6. And where would campus culture be without living on campus? ResLife deserves applause for having managed, despite incredible odds, to create an ideal campus living situation for misanthropes, the wealthy but non-discriminating, and those with an abounding love for over-reaching authority. When asked about RA presence in the Quads, Katie Let’s-Leave-It-At-Katie was direct: “Oh god. It was incredibly overbearing. To the point of being absurd.” Katie, I’m sure, is an exception: after all, who wouldn’t want omnipresent pseudo-authority figures in our dorms (oh, I’m sorry, “residence halls”) to remind us of good old Mom and Dad?
7. Of course, there’s plenty to praise that doesn’t require sarcasm. Like SRO, for instance. If not writing this, I’d be standing across from the bookstore, gettin’ a steamin’-hot cup o’ joe, served quick with a smile. An, oh, it’s deliciously cheap: especially between 4:30 and 6:00 (“happy hour-and-a-half”, as it were), when drinks are half-price. If not for SRO, I doubt I’d ever make it through afternoon Business Law without that rude (but sometimes necessary) mid-day nap.
8. Speaking of naps, MSU has some respectable napping destinations. Before noon, scope out Leigh Lounge for big stuffed chairs and cozy couches (and dreams of Brad Pitt!). When Leigh Lounge fills up, make for the couches in the Library, 3rd Floor, South-East corner. Put an open book on your lap (to blend in, of course) and enjoy. You deserve that nap.
9. And though MSU may not have the school-spirit of Hollywood’s Animal House clichés, the demonstrations on the Mall show that we’re not passive or indifferent. Be it the radically pro-life or slightly mis-informed (but heartfelt) opponents of the War in Iraq, the Mall keeps us lively and engaged. And, here’s a tip: the lawn behind Montana Hall is perfect to catch a sun set. Then, if you stay late, the Mall becomes a playground for MSU’s gnarly-suspension-ed, wheelie-riding, eight-inch-lift mountain-bike subculture. I dig it.
10. Little known fact: the Ministry of Silly Walks has a degree program at MSU. Its students are often seen walking on air around Romney Circle. Those who haven’t quite mastered thin air use webbing stretched between two trees. But watch for the ones without webbing! (By-the-by: come now, gentlemen: I don’t care if you and the trees are going steady: use protection. A little bit of cardboard between your webbing and that big, wood, tree-trunk will keep the trees unscarred.)
11. When not loitering on the top floor of Hedges (another story altogether), MSU’s perennial feathered friends prefer the resort environment of the hot-spring-heated Duck Pond. Bringing a loaf of bread is fun, but cliché; for a good time, donate Daffy (et al) a fifth of Malibu.
12. And who says that we’re a bunch of philistines? (–-aside from the Director of the Exit Gallery, that is.) A visit to the Copeland Gallery (Haynes Hall, second floor), the Exit Gallery (SUB 106e) or the architecture Lower Gallery (Cheever Hall) reveals a delightfully active art community at Montana’s best (ag/engineering, *ahem*) university.
13. And if you’re looking for something a little more bizarre–a little taxidermy, perhaps–seek out Lewis Hall’s sizeable collection of stuffed birds (and bobcats)! After Lewis, cross the mall to Sherrick Hall, to see MSU’s only statuary: a bust of Anna Pearl Sherrick, the 1937 founder of MSU’s College of Nursing. She looks stern, but, ah, has a heart of gold (or bronze, in this case).