It's A School Spirited Debate

"Where do you go to school" is a question I often dread when meeting new people. I always struggle to spit out "SMC" with downcast eyes and an I-know-I'm-a-failure shrug. The sympathetic response always follows.

I don't know whether my embarrassment stems from knowledge about my own personal failures or from my college choice itself, but the trend doesn't end with me.

The lack of participation in school activities just goes to show that most other students feel the same way. Events continue to happen without most of the student body ever taking notice. Sport games go unattended, and the only thing that seems to rally students together is the tentative offer of free food.

This is nothing new. SMC has long lacked the school spirit seen in other academic institutions. There are a few lame reasons that people peddle to the masses, but most of them are pretty valid.

Reason number one being that we are a commuter school, and most of us travel a substantial distance to get to campus. Most students tend to come to school, go to class and leave. Sticking around means having to face rush hour traffic, and don't even think about making the return trip.

Our students tend to have more on their plates than students in a university. There are a lot more of us that work full-time jobs and have other commitments, leaving school activities that aren't directly influencing your GPA at the bottom of a very long priority list. Throwing in student activities just adds more stress to a hectic life.

The age of the students attending also is a factor in our lack of school spirit. SMC has a lot of older students who are either going for their degree later in life or are just attending a few classes to improve themselves. The average age of students is 25. Our appeal to all ages is positive, however, older students have more responsibilities. While they are more enthusiastic about their classes than most of us, they tend to be less eager about college events.

And who wants to go to sports games when our teams continually get creamed? Our athletic department is in turmoil, and our football team has yet to see a win. Football is the most unifying event a school can have. Just think of the USC vs. UCLA games, and how anyone who doesn't live under a rock either shows up or tunes in. Can you imagine getting that riled up for an SMC game? Do we even have a rival?

What about the games that we do win? Women's soccer is our best team, yet few people even know where to find the games.

The Associated Students have similar problems getting the student body to get involved in decision making. Lack of voters and lack of candidates are problems that continue to plague the A.S., who are supposed to accurately represents the student body and its wants and needs. With only 20 percent of students voting in the AS elections in 2007 (compared to 40 percent of people in our age group voting in the California elections), students clearly aren't involved enough in our school.

Despite all of the lack of participation, we still should not be ashamed to shout out our smart decisions to the world. Sure, we go to a community college, but we are going to one of the best community colleges in the nation.

By choosing to go to a community college, we're being economical in these tough times. We're cutting our student loans in half, so when we graduate without a job because the job market still hasn't come around, we'll only owe half what our four year counterparts will owe. This means we'll have less debt and less stress upon graduating.

If money isn't enough to convince you that you've made the right choice just look at those who go to college without really finding a major that interests them. SMC makes it easy for those of you who are undecided to figure out what you like to do. We have hundreds of vocational classes, not to mention the Career Center who will be happy to steer you in the direction of self discovery. There are even classes to help you succeed. There are career planning classes and college success classes, and some are even transferable.

SMC has the highest number of transfers to the UCs, to the University of Southern California, and to Loyola Marymount University, according to the SMC website. By attending this community college of ours we are more likely to be accepted into the schools we had no chance of getting into straight out of high school. Out-of-state students, and even international students, come to California just to go to SMC to have better chances of getting into schools like UCLA.

Knowing that SMC is often the smarter choice, students shouldn't look at it with shame and embarrassment. We should be congratulating ourselves for taking the smarter route, even if it's not the most prestigious.