I am one of two people I know in this entire university from Kansas. More than likely there are others, simply by the law of large numbers. This may make me seem special; a geographical novelty among 4,000 New Englanders; however, this is a proposition made only by those who have never had the unfortunate opportunity to travel across the endless and flat nothingness that is my home state.

What does make my experience different from many UR students is that this was not my first choice in higher education. In fact, when I began college, I didn’t know this school existed.

My first semester of my freshman year was spent fruitlessly at Kansas University, a school that is not exactly known for its academic proclivity. At the time, this semester seemed like a waste of four months of my life. I felt that a life-altering time period, a transition from adolescence to adulthood, was leaving me behind.

This viewpoint is of course a wildly over-dramatic response to the realization that I had chosen the wrong school. I actually wanted an education while attending a university rather than four (realistically five or six) years of hangovers and chasing the thousands of sorority girls that dot the KU landscape (as pleasant as that sounds). However, now that I’m distanced from that point in my life, both physically and temporally, I realize that this transition, what I thought of as a waste of time, was more beneficial than I ever thought it could be.

Perspective can’t be bought, and when attending a university such as ours, it is nearly impossible to see outside of the bubble. When I view UR, I don’t see the status quo because that is not the default university for me. I don’t believe the draconian policies of parking are normal, or the over-priced, poorly-serviced and repetitive campus food as a necessary evil of living on campus. It is nice to know that at other universities the campus isn’t a bastion of security against the fear of the surrounding areas, but that the two are intertwined and symbiotic. I learned at KU that college sports teams are meant to be watched and cheered on and that the day off before finals is a day of drink specials at the local bars and spontaneous drug-fueled funk parades, not cramming periods.

This may seem like whining, but I promise that there is a piece of truth at the end. Everyone on campus knows that UR is not the best place in the world. Case in point, anyone, even the most socially inept, can start a conversation by complaining about the freezing cold ice storms that plague Rochester or the Pit food.

But the obvious flaws of our university are not the point of this article. UR isn’t as bad as we make it out to be. Though anyone reading this article while drinking a $4 cup of coffee or walking through a blizzard the entire four-mile length of Park Lot will disagree, UR doesn’t wholly suck.

Case in point: myself. Why would anyone give up a party campus to come here and pay tens of thousands of dollars to have substantially less fun and more work? The simple answer is cheesier than I would like to believe, but nonetheless compelling. The academics of this school could trump far larger failings than inedible food, not because I believe in the intrinsic value of education, but simply for the fact that suffering four days a week (always skip Fridays) will make it so that you can eventually afford vacations to warm places with better food, recreational substances and liquor than a college campus could ever offer.

Though this is a great tragedy, wasting away our collegiate years actually learning things (except psych majors), as a budding economist, I see this only as a way of pushing my own lifetime budget for self-indulgence and immoderation farther into absurdity.

So my advice to all UR students, coming from the perspective of an eternal skeptic and outsider, is to not bemoan our current state but revel in the fact that we’ll be rich and hedonistic in the future. Right now, though, we have to read our books rather than use them as drink coasters.

That being said, enjoy midterms.

Burnett is a member of the class of 2010.



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