As a high school student confronted with the term “college,” any number of emotions can be aroused depending on one’s personality. “College” is such a loose term nowadays that some people identify “college” with academics, others with partying and still others with football. I did not want to attend merely a “college” but a “university.” I wanted a “college” with a clear focus on academics and the liberal arts.
When I visited St. Louis University, I liked its mall. The long walkway had a focus, and ensured a constant community life. At the end of the tour we found ourselves on the mall facing a small bronze statue of the school’s mascot, a Billiken, an intriguing creature indeed. Its head had been polished down from frequent patting but as someone went to pay a similar act of respect, our tour guide issued an urgent halt. That statue was notorious for being urinated on at night.
And with that, our tour was over. While I liked the school, this final image did not seem in keeping with the school’s advertised qualities and left me with more questions than answers. I kept looking for a university.
While I was visiting as a prospective student, the University of Dallas defined itself and made sure prospective students understood that definition. “We are kind of quirky here,” my admissions counselor said, as I gazed dumbfounded at a bookshelf holding the entirety of the Core classics, “and we like it that way.” UD defines “university” as a place of academics and growth. Because students are intellectual and open to growth, the campus conveys the credibility of a “university” to the prospective student. Casting a monument to an underworld culture of heavy-handed drinking, and yet not having that same culture advertised as the school’s focus, creates a sense of disunity and confusion for a prospective student and hurts the school’s authenticity as a liberal-arts university.
I would hate to see a tour guide ashamed of a contradiction in our school’s ethos, let alone to see a prospective student confused, apathetic or dissatisfied at the image of a school that advertises itself as a place of truth, prudence and moderation.
Alex Bukaty, Class of 2013