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It’s been four years, and as graduation looms closer it’s hard to imagine I will be leaving Muskingum University behind. I’ve spent many of my walks to class reminiscing. Four years is a long time. The campus has changed a lot since I was a freshman. Muskingum College became a university, and there are new buildings, new rules, degrees and programs.
Of course I’ve changed a lot, too. I’ve gone through a lot in such a short time, and as we near May 8 I can’t say that I have many regrets, although there are certainly a few. Like those wiser and older than me, I wish I could go back knowing what I know now. Before my departure from Muskingum University I feel it may be my duty to share what it is I know–and what any brave person looking to join the “Long Magenta Line” must remember.
Muskingum University is a small university located in the village of New Concord, Ohio. During the school year New Concord is a village of 3000 people, with a total area of only 1.5 square miles. Needless to say, it is a very small place, with plenty of people knowing each other’s business. The university itself sits on 225 acrea of land, with 21 major buildings, a football stadium, and a pond. There are certain “traditions” or legends that MU speaks of to their freshmen, but let me give you the real scoop from a departing senior:
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- The Muskie “Hello!” – Supposedly every Muskie (student) on campus will say hello to each other on the way to class, because we are such a small university, and so we know just about everyone and are super friendly. My experience with this is about 50/50. There are some pretty great people on this campus, but don’t expect everyone to give you a smiling, “hi!” It just won’t happen.
- The College Seal — If you step on the college seal (located in Montgomery Hall) you will fail your next test. Let’s be honest, people…college is all about learning to jump through hoops and get the work done, no matter how much B.S. that requires. Stepping on a seal is not going to change how you do on a test. Generally speaking I’ve never had a MU class that was too much to handle. If you’ve got a head on your shoulders and actually belong in college, you’ll do just fine.
- The Spoon-holder– If you kiss someone inside the spoon-holder on the pond, you will eventually marry this person. Okay. I’ve heard of people who have done this, but my personal opinion? The spoon-holder is usually full of spiders. It’s not exactly a romantic getaway.
- The Ghost of Patton Hall– There are rumors that the third floor of Patton Hall (the only air-conditioned dorm on campus) is haunted by a girl who killed herself. We’ve had ghost hunters come over the past four years during Halloween, but from what I hear the girl’s ghost is not a problem. From what I understand, there may not have actually been a girl who killed herself in Patton in the first place. So essentially, don’t worry about it.
- The Muskie Grape Vine– Everyone knows anyone on campus, and so rumors will fly like crazy. This, dear readers, is 100% TRUE. I promise you. If you do something incredibly stupid, people you have never met before will somehow know about it. This is something that bites many people in the bum.
Now, aside from these, there are a few other tidbits of knowledge I would like to share that should make your time at MU easier.
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- Anne Steele — the president of MU is Anne Steele, a woman who will probably still think you’re a freshman even when you’ve been at MU for four years. She seems like a friendly enough person, but I honestly feel is rather fake when it comes to real human interaction. In fact, it’s almost impossible to meet with her in person…you actually have to schedule a meeting through her secretary. And if you’re reason isn’t very good, you can bet you’ll never see her. You should also know that Anne Steele is very good at raising money. The moment you graduate, MU will start asking you to donate (if not sooner!).
- Hills– There are hills everywhere in New Concord, and you will be walking in the rain, the sleet and the snow. The bright side of this is that you can one day tell your grand-kids, “When I was your age, I walked uphill to class both ways!” This past winter we had several feet of snow on the group and the sidewalks were coated in ice for weeks. I know a few people who were seriously hurt because of this–and the school never canceled. The jerks.
- The Food– Okay, this is a popular thing to complain about, but the cafeteria on campus is expensive. I won’t even begin to talk about the quality (except to mention that we’re fed the same quality food as people in prisons). The major thing is that we pay at least $1800 every semester for a meal plan, and if you’re on campus you have to have a meal plan. It’s one of the silliest things I’ve had to go through while at this school, because I am 100% sure I am not eating $1800 worthy food. Oh, and don’t try escaping it by going off campus…
- Punishments for living off campus– Starting next year they will be adding a new rule. If you live off campus, expect to lose $1500 in scholarships. Yup. No joke. Living on campus you’ll still have to pay $1800 for a meal plan and then your room and board. That alone amounts to what you would be paying in tuition at Ohio University. (Did I mention that private school is expensive?)
- Kelley Coffeehouse/Chess Center– If you ever plan to schedule an event in either of these places you will have to schedule through Bob Bergmann. Schedule early and be persistent. I’ve had many issues scheduling these venues over the past few years…just be patient and don’t wait until the last minute.
Hm. I feel like this has turned into a negative rant against Muskingum University. There are the many good things, too.
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- Student Senate Funding– As a part of several theater groups on campus (Fish Out of Water Improvisation Troupe, Muskie Players and Alpha Psi Omega), it has been my experience that through Student Senate we have always been given a generous amount of money to hold events. This means having good food, and having it for free. The senate works fairly well around here, and while there are a lot of people who still complain about it, we’ve very seldom had money problems.
- A Beautiful Campus– Muskingum University is beautiful. Every season is breathtaking, especially with all the changing colors in fall or the flowers in the spring. Rolling hills and matching brick buildings? It really is a great place, especially if you are looking for something pretty to photograph.
- Growth– Muskingum University is constantly growing. Even with a bad economy we are working on a new building right now. I’ve also been told we’re one of the few colleges not to be in debt. Our list of majors and minors is also growing. For instance, next year there will be the addition of a musical theater minor.
- Professors– My department (Speech Communication/Media/Theater) has always been top notch and helpful to me. They know what they’re talking about, and most of them know how to have fun along the way. One of my computer science teachers plays table-top games with us, and there’s a business professor here who has also participated in our improvisation troupe–I even get to call him by his first name now. What’s more, you can really develop a relationship with your professors. They care if something is going on in your life (and they notice when you’re not in class).
- Extracurricular Activities– You are free to participate in any group, regardless of your major. That’s something you can’t do at a large university!
Muskingum University is a small, perhaps in many ways imperfect private university…and while there are a list of reasons why I still wonder why I chose MU in the first place, I am leaving with some heartfelt sadness. I will miss this place and the people in it. I will miss being an undergraduate student, sheltered in the dorms and buildings of this campus. But life is all about change, and traveling down that long road.
That’s why MU alumni are referred to as the Long Magenta Line, I suppose. We go far. Or at least we’re supposed to.