This week’s column in your favorite weekly newspaper is targeted at UW–Platteville students, especially new students. Feel free to pass this on to a UWP student you know.
Welcome, or welcome back, to Platteville, a week tardy. This is your home for the next eight months or so, and if it goes reasonably well, up to the next four years.
(Those who are back at UW–Platteville may think this column seems familiar. The first version of this column ran here two years ago. There is a reason it’s back two years later, which was on page 8A of The Journal last week.)
You are getting the benefit of millions of dollars in investments over the past 150 years by those who came before you, in terms of tax dollars to construct and equip buildings and pay faculty and staff, and others’ intellectual contributions to what now is UW–Platteville. (Your school has been called UW–Platteville for the past 40 or so years. Hint: It has to do with the big M east of campus, from the top of which you can look down at the highest point in Illinois.)
One reason for the interesting relationship between Platteville and UW–Platteville is where students live in Platteville. In most college towns, students who live off campus live relatively close to campus. This is not the case in Platteville. In fact, UWP students live in nearly every part of Platteville, two years after your two newest dorms opened. This is easy to observe on a weekday around, say, 7:30 a.m. when what I call the Walk of the Zombies takes place — less-than-awake students holding beverage cups like Olympic torches from all parts of the city to the campus.
Your neighbors probably include the half or so of Platteville not directly connected to UW–Platteville. The occupants of those houses you’re walking past on the way to or from downtown after sundown may be not as appreciative of your singing, or jokes, or off-color language as you and your friends are, particularly between sunset and sunrise. That’s especially the case if those houses you’re walking past include young children.
You may therefore find that your interactions with Platteville residents are not all positive. Part of that may be unfortunate stereotyping, where the misdeeds of your predecessors (for instance, the aforementioned being loud after dark, alcohol- and drug-related incidents involving those of college age, or vandalism or petty theft) cause residents to paint you with the same broad brush. This is unfair, but life is unfair.
Some Platteville residents also don’t realize that Platteville is a better place because of UW–Platteville. Platteville has more retail and more things going on, both of a cultural nature and of an entertainment nature (for instance, musical events and your football team, which looked in midseason form Saturday afternoon), directly because of UW–Platteville. I’ve heard more than once from people that unlike most of the surrounding area, Platteville is growing, and that has a lot to do with UW–Platteville. It’s also ironic that towns smaller than, say, Platteville would kill to have new college graduates move to their town, but Platteville has 1,500 graduates every year, and doesn’t do much to keep them here. The fact is that Platteville is the best place to live in Southwest Wisconsin because of UW–Platteville, and UW–Platteville is a good place for you because of Platteville and us residents.
For those new to Platteville: Those who engage in what I euphemistically call Stupid Student Tricks (whether or not they are actually students) will be in the paper at least once, and probably twice. Public criminal records from the Grant County Courthouse can be found on pages 8B and 9B of this newspaper every week. (Do not bother calling to ask to not have your name printed.) Stories about people who get arrested or cited for said Stupid Student Tricks are usually found in the A section. (That’s after your interactions with UW–Platteville police if you’re on campus, or Platteville police if you’re not. My advice is to do what they tell you to do, and not add Resisting or Obstructing an Officer citations to whatever else you’re going to get.)
Demonstrating your legal or factual inability to handle adult beverages won’t make your parents happy, but it might follow you around far longer than you’d suspect, thanks to those two words, “public records.” More importantly, neither law enforcement nor UW–Platteville personnel want to have to call your parents and tell them that something tragic has happened to you. Nor do I want to write that story.
Unlike the vast majority of people your age in other countries, you have the opportunity to learn. Take advantage of it. Getting a college degree when you’re also in the working world is much more difficult. And when you graduate in a few years (and yes, that’ll get in this newspaper too), remember the hell that moving here was, and find a place within, say, three miles from where you now live as your permanent address.