We're terrible animals. I think that the Earth's immune system is trying to get rid of us, as well it should.- KURT VONNEGUT (1922-2007),
From his appearance on The Daily Show, 2005
This should come as a shock no one, especially people who frequent this site, but Oxford Fucking Ohio has more than just a few problems when it comes to Local U. student behavior.
People throughout the region, those familiar with this area, know the reputation, or have heard tales from others about some of the downright nucking futs insanity this community experiences from, oh, late August through May each year.
I'm always fascinated when random strangers feel the need to walk up to me in a bar or at work, just to let me know how bad I apparently make Local U. students look, or how I should be ashamed to post what I do about my experiences in Oxford. It's happened twice in the past week.
Sure, the Local U.'s a Public Ivy, with several nationally recognized academic programs. It even produced a U.S. president - albeit one that only History teachers and Jeopardy! junkies seem to be able to remember.
And sure, the student body supposedly represents the best and brightest in the region. Local U. students often pride themselves in their work ethic. The rural environs surrounding the campus, its virtual isolation from the hustle and bustle of 21st century life, offers wonderful opportunities for dedicated students to concentrate on their studies with minimal disruption.
But in terms of behavior outside of the classroom? Off-campus?
* * * *Just imagine taking some of the wealthiest 18-22 year-olds in the Midwest, the majority of whom seem to come from extremely sheltered backgrounds, and then setting them loose on a college town that offers very few extracurricular activities beyond binge drinking and substance abuse.
Now subtract several key factors that normally help regulate student behavior in most college towns. Outside of the town's full-time, non-student population, socioeconomic diversity is virtually nonexistent. The once healthy campus/community relationship has cooled to the point of almost outright animosity, thanks in part to a growing disparity between "Townie" living standards (where nearly one in five children and nearly one in 10 seniors live at or below the poverty line) and that of the students.
The once vibrant local music scene has only recently begun to show signs of resurrection, after almost a decades' worth of third-rate frat rock, shitty cover bands, and preppy gated- community- friendly folk performers. Major acts stop by maybe a handful of times year, the Local U.'s attempt to expose students to spoken word, hip-hop, musical theatre, and other performing arts. Many of the normal "College Radio," avant-garde types, the kinds of acts that filled the bars and clubs here throughout the 70s and 80s, no longer play this town because of its reputation as a potential career-killer.
And more and more faculty and staff are choosing to endure commutes from larger metropolitan areas. After-hours class meetings at local pubs and coffee shops, cookouts at faculty residences, and even the occasional impromptu late-night chat over grades, what many Higher Ed analysts call informal learning opportunities, have virtually ceased to exist in some academic disciplines.
Issues? Yeah, Oxford has issues with a capital I. A bloated cost of living, a shrinking middle-class population base, and the lack of sustainable cultural outlets are just the tip of the iceberg.
* * * *
We're not talking Animal House. We're talking Lord of the Flies here. Imagine 15,000 college kids roaming the streets, with only a handful of professional, mature adults to serve as role models.
The fact that I'm considered by some folks locally, because of this blog, to be a community leader scares the living shit out of me. Being the Dangerous Librarian? No problem. But to be considered one of the Old Farts because I have a friggin' blog and I'm old enough to legally drink? Now that's frightening.
The Local U. student culture seems to be moving closer to the day when its poor Piggys get brained with a rock, a frightening future where the idea of College Life becomes more akin to a Hitler Youth rally than the typical American undergrad experience, where conformity becomes the only fashion accessory legally allowed.
Imagine a college town where nights are ruled by a Gen Y version of Jack and the Choirboys, one where Oxford residents over the age of 30 generally lock themselves in their own homes after ten on the weekends, surrendering their community to the popped-collar J. Crew U. hordes bound for evenings filled with unreported sexual assaults and vomited wastes of perfectly good beer.
* * * *
Last week, a colleague made an interesting comment about this ol' blog. He jokingly expressed concern that I may one day have an Imus Moment. We had a good laugh over it, actually.
Anyone who works here long enough, who lives here long enough, knows that there's no need to wait for me to put something completely insane online for public consumption.
Why bother? The local web is already filled with Local U. versions of The Imus Moment.
I found an ex's blog a few months ago, while randomly Googling names out of boredom. On her blog, she discusses things such as her current drug-consumption habits, break-ups and fights that involve real names, and other things. I hit up MySpace and found that there are numerous students who feel the need to share tips on how to sneak into bars, which sororities are the sluttiest, and who document various criminal activities.
I've even been experimenting with FaceBook. You wouldn't believe how many folks post completely inappropriate images in public profiles, for the world to access. I found out that a woman who hit on me a few months back, a woman who claimed to be a 23-year-old grad student, was actually a 19-year-old with a great fake I.D.
Stephan!e? One of my fellow OxBloggers? Free Rad!cal Rightings is by far the best student Blogger site out there. She deals with socially conscious activism, her quest to graduate, and her inability to remember to do her taxes.
See, she's responsible with her online content. But there are others... dear lord, the others...
* * * *
And then, of course, there's the electronic Pandora's Box, that pesky YouTube/Google Video monster.
Ever wondered what life in Oxford actually looks like? Or what kinds of things go on here that I only skim over in posts, the kinds of worship found only in the Cathedral of the Local Higher Education Underground?
Take a look at what I found, what anybody can find, when looking for information on the local college scene:
THE UN-RECRUITMENT VIDEO:
TheU.Com, a company that specializes in producing videos that explore campus life, managed to capture just about negative stereotype associated with the Local U.
I should mention that this video has spawned several dorm room drinking games, including "Spot the Minority" and "Count the Pastel Polos."
GREEN BEER DAY AND STUPIDITY:
I probably get more negative feedback for calling Green Beer Day America's Dumbest College Tradition than I do from almost any other post.
My favorite IM this year? "Fukin faggot liberal. go eat you fukin tofu hippy . ill be fukin hotties at lotties on GBD."
I feel sorry for whatever hotties that guy was supposedly fukin. Wonder if he's one of the guys fighting at the end of this clip?
NANCY PELOSI & THE FIGHTIN' POLITICOS:
What happens when a Left-leaning student and a Right-leaning student have a disagreement while in Uptown Oxford after dark?
The answer has now been captured on film.
I have yet, however, to witness two students actually sustain an intellectual debate over just a few drinks in Uptown Oxford.
And who the hell yells Fuck Nancy Pelosi as a rallying cry, anyway?
* * * *
Welcome to Oxford Fucking Ohio, population 21,000, 15,000 of which are Local U. undergrads, bored shitless and prone to some of the strangest behaviors known to Man.
It's not their fault, really. Idle hands are indeed the tools of the Devil.
Actually, I think Beelzebub lives down the street. He's egging on a group of guys in an attempt to turn a friendly game of Edward Forty-Hands into the first-ever game of Double SoCo Hands. And I've heard Mephistopheles just applied for a liquor license, as he's planning on opening a college bar called Roofies Pub - it'd be a big hit with certain groups of guys.
Satan? He just started his first-ever Religious Right- influenced, emo/punk record label in some dorm room, signing bands with names like Jesus Built my Fauxhawk, The Falwell Five, and Sad Puppies Get the Girl to, like, Make Out with You.
And I'm pretty sure the Antichrist spends his days hanging out at the ZenFo Library, teaching courses on the Art of Facebook Stalking.
I'm actually starting to sound like a responsible, rational community leader.
I think I need a drink. And a cigarette. Maybe cyanide.
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