This article originally appeared in a spring 2009 issue of The Tiger, Clemson University's student newspaper. It deals with a local school issue involving campus clubs advertising their wares in the middle of the only thoroughfare between the north and south sides of campus. The Tiger does not hold archives longer than about six years.
While watching the vast number of students cross over the library bridge during class changes, it seems as though most of them are trying to avoid all of the activists who harass everyone with their barrage of fliers. Those simply trying to get to class are certainly justified in being annoyed at any of these demonstrators on the library bridge especially since they are often rude, loud, ugly, or otherwise annoying.
This has gotten to be a hot-button issue. The library bridge is the main thoroughfare through campus, yet some students are forced to either take alternate routes around the library bridge or fake a phone call simply to avoid these obstinate demonstrators. However, the real problem here is with the normal, everyday students themselves.
As long as any student group advertising on the library bridge is anything but an animal rights group (who somehow believe they will get people to quit eating meat by passing out fliers full of pictures of food), they probably have a legitimate cause or concern, or are at least giving out free high-fives. It seems that most Clemson students could show a little more interest in their school and its organizations than ignoring or getting frustrated with the dedicated students on the library bridge.
The most blatant example of this disregard for school spirit happened last Friday, when a handful of students were trying to promote a culturally diverse tradition that has a deep, rich heritage at Clemson. Despite this particular event resulting in another shameful yet unsurprising loss to a sub-par basketball team, most students simply ignored everyone promoting the event from the bridge.
What was important about this event, however, was that ESPN College GameDay was going to be broadcasting from campus prior to and during the basketball game last weekend. The normally obnoxious promoters on the library bridge may have actually had a reason to be harassing innocent bystanders if a national TV show was going to place Clemson at the center of sports attention.
Even though a larger number of fans at the event would mean that the University would look impressive to people in the outside world, Clemson students crossing the library bridge were largely unsympathetic to this cause. Yet even President Barker agrees that there is nothing more important at Clemson than what irrelevant people outside of the University think of it. (See: US News and World Report.)
While this apathy reached its peak with students ignoring and avoiding those on the bridge who were advertising for ESPN College GameDay, it certainly is a common attitude felt by any organization seeking to promote themselves in this manner. Even the attractive sorority girls and their delicious baked goods get unjustly snubbed by those venturing across the bridge.
Clemson University needs a plan to keep this plague of apathy from spreading. If free high fives, attractive women brandishing delicious food, and sports are not enough to get the student body motivated to get more involved in their school, it may take quite a bit of work to accomplish this change. Also, for the record, it will probably not involve anything related to pep rallies or meaningless propaganda slogans like “Determined Spirit” or “The Paw Says It All.”
Now, it may be much too late to save any of the students late in their college careers from this wave of apathy. They have come in and punched their time cards and would even have considered giving Clemson extra money just to get their degree a little bit early, if that was an option.
This is especially true for engineering students since they have had all of their spirit kicked out of them by most of their professors. But for the rest of the student body, especially the younger ones, there is hope.
More importantly, however, if any of the people who are normally out harassing people on the library bridge see anyone that they think might be a senior engineering major on the verge of graduation (electrical engineering especially), they should probably take extra care to leave him alone. Unless it's a pretty girl with nice cupcakes.