The Mark Side of UCSB: Campus World Filled with Prospects

Monday, June 04, 2007

I signed up to be a columnist this year on a whim. My primary job has always been to illustrate the opinion articles, but I figured I would give writing them shot. With columnist topics about politics, pop culture, fashion, technology, California, marijuana, sex, parties and whatever it is Zach Phillips writes each week, I figured there wasn’t much left for me to cover.

That’s why I was all the more surprised at finding a niche by writing about my perspective on the campus. Looking back at the year I can honestly say I’m pleased with how things have gone with my column. I’ve written about phony activists, over-reactionary “town hall” meetings, exploits in the academic grading system and the inept student government. But I’ve also written on serious issues like crashing campus events, the annual power outages and gaming tournaments that finally get those shut in gamers out of their rooms.

So what exactly have I taken from my experiences? First of all, it’s easy to become jaded about our surroundings. Let me go back to student activists. It isn’t so much the causes they represent or their effectiveness in “raising awareness,” it’s that there are just so many things that we as students need to -or more appropriately should - care about. If it isn’t a hunger strike, it’s a rally from Cheadle Hall to Storke Plaza, or a sit-in at the Pardall tunnel, or a festival in Isla Vista or some dumbass recruiter that steps in the path of a moving skateboard in order to hand out a flyer. I’ve met my fair share of confrontational protesters and spineless schemers. Both are equally irritating in their attempts to convince you that their views are correct and disagreeing makes you a horrible person. This saturation of causes and annoying activists contributes to student apathy. I’ve personally stopped caring because I’ve come across enough activists that complain how the Nexus doesn’t properly acknowledge their “accomplishments.” It’s gotten to a point where I can no longer get any more jaded and instead laugh at these futile attempts to change the world. You know how I can tell your hunger strike isn’t working? The Weatherhuman makes fun of your weight and I can see the validity of that insult.

When it all comes down to it, everybody wants to make a change and be remembered for something. We need to have our existence validated by somehow making a difference. But there lies another problem. What many of us do during our time here won’t have that much of an effect on anyone else. Even if it does, in five years, neither you nor your actions will be remembered. It doesn’t matter if you’re a misguided freshman or a 28-year-old transfer student.

The next thing I learned is that there are just so many things happening in the Santa Barbara area at any given moment. If one were to take into account all the Nexus news reports, opinion articles, sports stories and Artsweek reviews, they still only manage to cover a portion of events that occur every day. Just take a look at the campus calendar at the university’s website and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

It’s this particular lesson that I hope all of you took away from my column. As much as I ragged on about particular topics over the year, UCSB has time and again proven to be one of the most exciting places I have ever lived. Pirate, Professor Brannigan, Kip Fulbeck Smitty and Hookah Mike are just a small sampling of the interesting personalities you’ll find around here. I’ve attended and participated in events like Anacruzapalooza, Reel Loud, the GŸnther concert, Fifty Club and Nexus/A.S. Beerlympics. The best part is that some of the most interesting people and events I’ve come across have happened seemingly at random. The point being that you’d be hard pressed to ever find yourself bored on the couch.

How much time do you dedicate to class, work, activism, sports and leisure? It’s ultimately up to you to make that choice. Just make sure you don’t have any regrets when it’s time to finally leave for the real world. It comes at you faster than you think - and I’ve been here for five years.

Daily Nexus columnist Mark Batalla highly recommends the five-year plan for everyone.

And here's the art from my successor, Simon Estrada:

Posted by Batalla at 7:28 PM  


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