Columns, Opinion

SHANFIELD: Why do we BU?

This weekend I went to Wesleyan University. It was my first visit to a ‘small liberal arts school.’ My general conclusions are that the town looked like something between a History Channel movie about Puritans and a Food Network special on the kitschiest breakfast nooks in the Northeast. It was the Disneyland of New England, a mock version of a colonial town where everything was a steeple or a statue of some white guy on a horse. The school itself was full of couples and people with cars. It reminded me how weird it is to leave Boston and how weird it is that we go to school in a real, functional city.

Our school has no football team. Our school has no ‘annual rush the quad in your underwear after finals’ event. Our school has so little Greek life that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s frats are on our campus, and we don’t even go to those. Also, our school has no campus. Every time we try to have a campus, it manifests into a poorly executed space for students to meet and greet and tan when it’s warm. But it’s never really warm here – that’s why the Boston University ‘Beach’ is a strip of grass next to a major highway and Marsh Plaza is made of cold, hard, Medusa stone.

Our school was not meant to be a Notre Dame or a Vassar. It was not meant to be one of those schools where people paint themselves red and white and buy season tickets to all the games after they graduate. Our school is what it is, and at one point or another on our campus tours, every one of us looked at the expressions of disdain students have when walking down Commonwealth Avenue, and we thought, ‘This is the place for me.’

As a senior, I ask myself these questions halfheartedly and to no one. Why did I choose a school with the only existing school spirit being in the dwindling student section at a hockey game? Aren’t these the students that didn’t realize they were going to a school without team sports? I don’t see these things as problems, and I never really did. I went to a lot of hockey games; I even won an iPod once by convincing the cameraman to point and shoot in my direction. I still have plenty of school spirit; I’m just not the type to paint it on my face. I don’t think any of us are.

I look around at my senior class and notice that the only thing we have in common is our school. Something about BU made us feel at home. Something about BU made us feel like it could give us the best four years of our lives.

It was the burritos at Warren Towers that made me realize I was meant for BU. I’m going to assume that 50 percent of every incoming freshman class enrolls for the same reason. Still, there has to be something more.

How did BU seduce us? Yes, we all studied different things, but there’s a reason why most of us are pretty well dressed, repulsed by unkempt hair, and there has to be a reason why most of the guys are kind of tool-ish. At one point, all of us romanticized Boston and said, ‘Big lights, big city, here I come.’ We knew we wanted to be in a real place, not some kitschy town without an airport. We were going to make something of ourselves in this big city, but we weren’t ready for New York yet. New York is for after graduation.

I know, I’m generalizing, but I’m generalizing all the things I like about BU. I like that our law building looks like Tim Burton-inspired Legos. I like that I don’t have to make any all-day commitments other than Marathon Monday. And I find it really satisfying that half the reason for the traffic on Storrow Drive in the springtime is people slowing down to look at the six girls who decide it’s okay to tan in April.

Perhaps what brings us together is that we were all smart enough to choose a school as perfect as Boston University. There’s plenty to complain about, but most of it is for people who like to complain (me). It’s expensive, but there are so many things partially funded by your undergraduate student fee that you haven’t even discovered (free bagels in the basement of the George Sherman Union on Tuesdays). It’s a great school with a great support system. If you haven’t found that yet, I promise you will.

Those of us who stick around at BU are people who like to get their coffee and then sit and not talk to anyone while applying for internships. We have our friends, yes, but we have our jobs at State Street too. We’re living in a real city with real problems. It’s comforting to know we belong.

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