Column by Robert Valentine, Senior lecturer of advertising
The world is an exciting place. There are wars, rumors of wars, a side-show of a presidential campaign, global warming, March Madness, the onset of tornado season and a plan to change funding schemes in Kentucky government.
For me, global warming is the biggest problem. I accept the fact that the Earth’s atmosphere appears to be getting warmer in tiny increments, but if it turns out that my Prius is not the principal cause of it, I’ll be upset. This upset will take on gargantuan proportions if I have to alter my lifestyle here in my twilight years (“twilight” begins at 40, I believe).
However, on Murray State’s campus, the prospect of a budget cut from our friends in Frankfort seems to be attracting more attention. This attention is well-placed; the concept of “public education” has been eroding in the Commonwealth for decades. A semester’s tuition in Kentucky in 1965 cost about two weeks’ of the 1965 minimum wage. Today, Murray State – a very affordable institution by most comparisons – costs at least six or seven times more as measured by an even higher minimum wage.
So parents and students, foundations, families and alumni have stepped up to fill the gaps left by a legislative inability to raise the revenue necessary to ensure the state’s educational future. They have done a great job.
However, these folks are almost out of resources. The long-promised economic recovery seems to be more public relations than practical reality. Jobs are not as plentiful as they might be, and training in high-paying non-college jobs is hard to find.
But, for you, the scope of worry must be limited. You are a student – one of highest callings for a citizen of the United States. Studenthood is not easy, as you know. It is a vital set of challenges that consumes critical time during your formative years.
Being a university student is hard work. In addition to learning the facts, figures and failings of the past, you have to develop a perception of the future into which you will be thrust. You need to develop a strong set of moral principles which will guide your life.
The elements of real success are available to you while you are a student. You have to learn self-discipline, respect for yourself and others, how much liquor is too much and when to shut up.
No one can really teach you these things, but there are people who can help you learn them for yourself. Their time is divided between their lives, their professions and their own families and friends. Still, they can make time to help you master what needs to be mastered before you stumble across the stage, shake hands with the president, and walk into the so-called “real world.”
Make no mistake: the world you inhabit is no less real than anything else on the planet. You have tens of thousands of dollars, years of time and a lifetime of opportunity tied up in what you are doing right now. It may be the most important thing you will ever do.
So don’t be distracted by the cries of despair or the frets of your professors and friends about what is fair, what is just, who is a villain and what should be done. Those who have responsibility for maintaining this place for your benefit will tackle those problems, and I believe they will succeed.
No one, however, will come into your classroom and tell you to pay less attention. No one will deprive you of books or the opportunity to discuss important matters with professors and classmates. No one can keep you from your goal but yourself and your fears.
You are the star of your own show, and you create your own destiny. The Big Frankfort Extravaganza will resolve itself as it will, but your time at Murray State is yours and yours alone. Keep your focus, keep your dreams and keep moving toward your future.
Let’s do this.