Hastings College has an issue that is affecting the health and culture of campus. At too many events, there are not enough students showing up. In too many groups, there are not enough students participating. In the last couple of years, several student groups have been phased out because there are too few people in the group. As an example, Peer Umbrella Network (PUN) lost Mental Wellness Educators because there was only one student still interested. Everyone should be interested in mental wellness. Greek life has seen a decrease in the number of students rushing. One fraternity had only four rushes, the most of any other fraternity. Years ago, fraternities would have a dozen rushes consistently. In fact, the number of fraternities has dropped from six to four because there is little interest. Finally, there is so much going on campus every week but these events are often so poorly attended that there is no benefit to continue them, except for the continuation of tradition. If people want to improve the health of campus, be more likely to stay at HC and enjoy their HC experience more, they need to participate more.
College is a difficult time. In many cases, we are alone, except for the people we meet. There are students who are hungry because they can’t buy food for themselves. Last year, a student fell off a balcony while drunk and broke his neck. Finally, as every student can attest to, the stress of academics and simply being at college is can become overwhelming. We all, as part of this community, need to care for each other in situations like these. Groups like PUN, Crimson Cupboard and Greek life all expand the knowledge of how to take care of each other, as well as the number of people who can care. But if nobody shows the willingness to participate, this limits our ability to do so. Groups like these are essential for HC’s campus health.
It is well known to administration that HC currently has a poor retention rate. Right now, HC has a 65 percent retention rate according to collegefactual.com. This is less than the national average, at 72 percent, and much less than the Nebraskan average, at 77 percent. It is also well known to administration that getting individuals involved in groups and making them feel like they are a part of a community improves retention. That is why there is something from HC Does Weekends almost every weekend. The experiences we share, from game night to going to sporting events, are there to build camaraderie. By creating the feeling of belonging, we can give others the opportunity to experience the positive benefits that HC has given us.
Finally, HC is not just an educational institution. HC is a community, a home and a place where we grow and develop. There are so many opportunities to explore the history and culture of campus, but many don’t take the advantage of this. Did you know that HC used to be a military base? There is a memorial for Korean soldiers in between Perkins Library and Kiewiet Gym. Did you know that HC has a brick circle out in circle drive that acts as a physical space for reflection? I didn’t know that until I attended a chapel session during my freshman year. HC’s has a rich story with many memorials and features that tell that story. It is simple to ask any professor or faculty member why the Ozu Friendship Garden is there, or why the cafeteria is call the Bellevue dining room and they will tell you. A stronger understanding of campus leads to a stronger appreciation.
HC has made a significant impact on my life. While I may have been here for four years, which is only about five percent of my life if I live to 80, the significance of my HC experience is much more than five percent. The best experiences and memories that I have has come from being a part of several groups and taking advantage of the events that this school hosts. I admit, I have not been to all of them, but that is because there are so many. Nonetheless, those few that I did participate in are memorable and have developed a passion for this college. Everyone can complain about the changes and the negative things that we are going through at HC, but it takes someone who is willing to take advantage of these opportunities that can actually make a difference. So go out and join that club or visit that event. You may not appreciate it now, but you can look back on it as a new experience, for better or worse.