this weekend was the annual block party in harrisonburg, virginia. apparently this year things were totally and completely different than they have been in years past. students were "out of control" again, and there was an overwhelming number of people, again, and there were laws being broken, again. but this year, the harrisonburg police dusted off the riot equipment they had next to the "what are mennonites?" literature and took to the streets! to you know, "control the masses."
having attended this event i can close my eyes and remember just how out of control it can get. and chances are fantastic all 30 individuals who were arrested deserved it, but i can't help but ask, does that make everyone who ever sunbathed on the quad guilty? when you put hundreds upon hundreds of young adults in a small area, motivate them with beautiful weather, and put a 25 cent can of beer in their hands, things are guaranteed to get rowdy. throw in an ncaa basketball game, a holiday, a war, an unpopular president, and you have a situation that has erupted on dozens of campuses across the country for decades. open up your history books kids, ever hear of kent state? see footage of college park after a duke win? well maybe you should before you throw james madison under the bus.
for everyone who now thinks we will forever be "tarnished" or that we should hang our heads in shame that a degree from that fine institute of higher learning hangs in our room, you embarrass me. you embarrass me because you see nothing wrong with the fact that 90% of our campus is the same color, or that 70% of our campus is the same gender. you see nothing wrong with the insane amount of money that is put into campus beautification, when the surrounding area is living in poverty. or the fact that jmu greek life makes zero philanthropic contributions to the town we call home for four years. it was something as meaningless as a block party to make you realize that jmu is flawed.
like it or not, people go to college to receive a quality education while simultaneously enjoying their youth. and while there is no excuse for putting others in danger, or creating chaos, it is inexcusable for individuals hundreds and thousands of miles away to hold their nose in the air and discredit what jmu really is to harrisonburg: the most vital part of their economy.
in may 2007 i drove up and over the mountain with tears in my eyes. i was leaving behind the best times of my life and i was proud of all that i had accomplished. that pride will never fade. jmu gave me an education, and lifelong friendships. both will continue to increase in value as the years pass. and i will be forever and ever grateful.