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Opinion

Columnist wonders where the college has gone

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April 3, 2008

A marketing agency out of the Twin Cities has begun figuring out what UW-River Falls is all about. Its goal is to identify a platform that UWRF can use to market itself to the world. 

Prospective students will know exactly what UWRF has to offer and why they should choose this university over others.

What does UWRF have to offer? I’ve heard that there is a pretty stellar education program here and the physics department was recently recognized. But it’s actually difficult to track down any awards that UWRF’s undergraduate departments have obtained.

While there are bountiful academic programs offered here, there seem to be few reasons why not to choose UWRF as the college of choice for those who want small class sizes and tons of hands-on experience.

But when class is over…where has the rest of college gone?

There are no places to hang out or gravitate toward. You can’t eat all day in Riverside Commons, and the Falcon’s Nest is often locked. 

Where is the college within UWRF? A walk across the beautiful campus reveals buildings and trees and a little black clock—no sign of students in sight in the summer, on the weekends or in the evening.

My little sister is planning to attend school here in the fall, and I almost want to plead with her to go to UW-Stevens Point instead. Somehow that campus was planned correctly with intramural and practice fields laced within the residence halls and academic buildings. Wherever you go—to class, lunch or to visit friends across campus—you always see something going on and people engaged in activity. 

You’re exposed to people and before you know it, you’re blissfully enjoying that very moment in The Encore rocking out in front of The Lonely Ninjas. And for that natural fix, there are Schmeekle Reserve’s miles of running/walking/biking trails where the deer comfortably watch you go by, and there are places where you can rent bikes if you don’t own them.

But rather than blissfully enjoying my college years in the middle of the state, I’m hanging out near the cities, clinging onto our awesome marketing program because it isn’t offered at UWSP. 

What are supposed to be considered “our best years” may be spent in this ghost town of a college community. Are college students spending their best years locked away behind the thick cement within their dorm rooms or packing their bags for a weekend’s return to home? If not, where are they?

There are events provided on campus for students with many interests. But if an event begins at 7 p.m., what is there to do before it? Where do you hang out before or after the event without traveling to a different city?

I like that St. Paul and Minneapolis are so close. There’s something about the cities that I can always run away to—it’s different from the lack of college atmosphere offered here. But wait, I’m going to UWRF…why aren’t I supporting the community that I live in and the college I attend?

I suppose students could trek downtown and take a walk. They could go bowling again. Or go see that movie again. Or get drunk again. But unless students are 21, there are slim pickings for places to just relax and hang out. 

Actually, I can think of one: Kinni Lounge—it’s the only “college” I see in River Falls…but it’s not even on campus.

So why not get a pub in the University Center? It’d be a place we could go and hang out in a setting other than the Falcon’s Nest (when it’s open) or playing Buck Hunter (when it’s available). 
 
Yeah, most people think a pub is a great idea. The idea was actually brought before Student Senate where about 95 percent of people were in favor of the pub. But nothing happened after the vote.

The thing is, nothing ever happens. If Woychick Design was to develop a brand platform to “strengthen the identity of the University” right now, it would be: UW-River Falls: where academics flourish and your social life remains lonesome. And perhaps they’d toss something in there about how the [lack of] technology sucks. But how are they supposed to let the external world know who we are when we don’t even know?

So what do we do? Do we say something? Will they listen? Or will life on campus continue to diminish? Will I forget UWRF once I graduate?

Will you?

Abby Maliszewski is a student at UW-River Falls.