Education is more than a symbolic picture

David Busch

I remember this past summer when I was slowly meandering to class from my car, feeling the warm breeze of July tickle my face and looking up and seeing the massive sign and pictures that the university was erecting on the library. “Interesting,” I thought and went on to my class, thinking no more of it. After a while, I decided the Kent State sign did look nice on the library.

A couple of weeks ago when I was driving my old Toyota Corolla on Summit Street, with my shocks creaking over the endless potholes that salt and pepper the street, I looked up and saw the picture the university had decided to construct on the Student Recreation and Wellness Center. Another one, really? But it was early in the morning, and I moved on with my day.

And then last week I saw a new picture starting to evolve on the MAC Center. It’s probably finished now, but I have decided to not pay attention to it. I have had enough of these pictures creeping over me and telling me to “Achieve,” and to be inspired. In a time of economic woes for universities across Ohio and the country, these pictures send the wrong message. Tuitions are increasing, books are more expensive and professors are fighting to keep their jobs. Our very education as students is being threatened, and we are struggling because of it. But Kent State has decided to erect pictures portraying the opposite of what Kent State’s education is.

College education is more than pictures that scream “achieve” and “inspire.” Education is a struggle filled with a couple of correct answers and endless wrong ones that need to be sought out and challenged.

College education is the students at the library sitting in the corner, still in the pajamas from the few hours of sleep that they managed to get, with the strong aroma of coffee wafting in their nose keeping them awake for a few more hours, a few more minutes to study for that physics or psychology exam or write that English paper on William Faulkner.

College education is meeting your professor after class. You, as the student leaning forward, passionate about what you want to say, the professor is lounging back, confident in his or her study. “I disagree with how you interpret that history,” the student challenges. A smile grows on the professor’s face, and a debate ensues.

College education is working that part-time or full-time job at Wild Goats Café or Franklin Square Deli, scraping together enough cash for tuition and books for each semester; scraping enough cash together to pay for your heating and electricity bills so that you can stay warm in the Ohio winter.

Education is eating peanut butter and jelly for a month straight because you can’t afford anything else to eat – because your education is more important than your diet. This is college education in the U.S.; this is education at Kent State University.

I feel the lump in the back of my throat that won’t go way because I can never catch up on sleep, the stress that lingers at the back of my mind with my encroaching history exam on Monday, and I am still frustrated over the lesson I had in my History of the American Depression class – I interpret it differently, that isn’t the correct answer. This is my education.

My problem with these pictures: they cover up that reality. These pictures send the message that there is no struggle in college. By not portraying the struggle, these pictures take away from the exhausting and strenuous journey that is college education in which one grows as a person, as a human being. The struggle is part of education. I wouldn’t mind pictures that show the English literature student smoking outside of the library, contemplating William James, or the worker at Wild Goats Café, studying Biology while taking orders for breakfast. That’s the difficult reality of college education, of Kent State University. Please, Kent State, don’t lie to me with these pictures.

David Busch is a junior history and psychology major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]