Young Voices

Thursday, November 6, 2008

It's easy to fall into the 'BVU Bubble,' but Storm Lake offers more than bars and Wal-Mart, if you take the chance to venture out

Students Can Help Build SL Community

It's easy to fall into the Buena Vista University (BVU) bubble. With our busy lives and class routines, we lose sight of world events and issues in the very town we live in. Some may not call Storm Lake home, but our extended stay can inspire community relationships and opportunities for involvement.

While the college tries to foster community relations by having Academic and Cultural Event Series (ACES) performances and sporting events open to the public, some stigmas exist that might make parties on both sides hesitant to interact with each other. The differing environments sometimes feel like two different worlds with little common ground.

BVU has a reputation with many Storm Lake residents as a party school. This isn't surprising recognizing when the community sees us out and about it's usually at the bars, Al's Liquor, or on a Wal-Mart run.

Our rowdy and inappropriate behavior speaks more than our good deeds. Negatively viewed, the college uses city resources and students become demanding on local businesses.

On the other side, students compare Storm Lake to their hometowns and commonly complain that there isn't enough to do here. It's true Storm Lake has drug problems, but I challenge you to find a community that does not.

For those who come from larger cities, Storm Lake's size may come as a shock. Small town Iowa might seem like a conservative safe haven lacking culture. These observations are surface deep. Just like college students shouldn't merely be judged on their party habits, the Storm Lake community shouldn't be punished for its size. The fact we aren't satisfied with the amount of entertainment in town might just show a difference in preference.

Instead of focusing on these differences, we need to branch out and realize the community of Storm Lake has a lot to offer. I lived here this last summer and was able to visit area churches, shop at local small businesses downtown, and enjoy the lake.

I got out into the community and met some wonderful people. Once I opened my eyes and accepted Storm Lake as my temporary home, I was much happier I lived here. Taking some ownership in my surroundings helped me build new relationships.

BVU offers many community outreach services for students to build relationships. Campus organizations like Student MOVE and Students of Diverse Populations (SDP) organize local volunteer opportunities. BV Buddies travels to the Storm Lake Middle School once a week to tutor and work with students in the after school program. Spanish classes require service hours with the Hispanic community in Storm Lake. These are not limitations but merely easy places to start. Even our Halloween event for kids has a positive impact. Our positive actions should outweigh our negative actions. Do we want to be remembered for our drunken escapades, or for our service to the community?

A positive community relationship will not be gained if we just think of Storm Lake as a temporary residence. We must make the effort to actually get to know the community we live in.

* Anne Blankley is a columnist for the Buena Vista University newspaper, "The Tack."