A new president will soon be chosen, a new core curriculum has recently been approved, a new marketing plan was just unveiled, and we all await new information about the budget crisis and what’s being done about it.
USM is facing a unique opportunity to redefine itself, and to reinvent-or re-identify-its culture.
But like our student body president says in his letter on page 8, it takes more than just external change-it takes internal identification.
At the unveiling of USM’s marketing plan, I wasn’t sure what to expect-did we really spend a whole bunch of money just to make a ‘brand’ for ourselves?
But watching the photos in the slideshow and seeing friends; reading the slogans and finding that they described my experiencs, I realize that it is appropriate way of drawing people into the community I have come to appreciate.
I did not, however, always appreciate it.
When I came to USM, I wanted only to get away from it, and quickly. I had been aiming for Bowdoin, and when I fell short, I settled for Portland as a sufficiently far-from-home alternative at which I could spend my first year of college. Applying to transfer, I found myself with an acceptance letters to both Bowdoin and Brown.
But around the same time I received these letters, I found myself fitting in at USM. I had a group of friends in Woodward Hall who loved to play soccer in the middle of the night on the field hockey field behind our dorm.
I had fallen in love with exploring Portland, its quaint shops and cobblestone streets that held an inexhaustible charm.
I had found connections in faculty-people with whom I felt a sort of intellectual bond, and from whom I learned a lot, both in and out of class.
Jerry Conway from philosophy went so far as to invite me to his home for Thanksgiving, and although I didn’t accept the offer, I still consider him as sort of familial, rather than professorial, when I run into him on campus.
Since then, others have stood out similarly-Dennis Gilbert in media studies, despite the fact that he has never given me anything higher than a B+; Kaitlin Briggs in honors, though an incomplete from her will forever haunt my transcript; Lorrayne Carroll of English, who I didn’t even talk to until finals week last semester.
“Community” has become a buzzword of late-it’s something USM seeks desperately, as if it doesn’t already have it.
No, there is not one unified “community” that is USM. At a university serving such a diverse population in terms of lives and schedules, that’s impossible.
But within our very different lives, we take part in a common culture-USM as a source of engaged learning, of connecting with professors, and finding our own niches within the 10,000-some students in attendance.
USM is currently facing a tremendous opportunity to change. But rather than treat it as that-change-I think we should consider it as a chance to better realize that culture.
Because I know that my own story has not occurred in a vacuum, I’m curious to hear yours. If you can find the time this week, please send us a letter telling why you’re still at USM. Our email address is [email protected] I look forward to hearing from you!