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In the looming shadow of IUPatty’s Day, we, the students of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, need some good public relations. We’ve all heard the rhetoric. It shifts blame from IUP students onto out-of-towners and highlights how only a small, never-identified percentage of students are the ones causing damage.
“There’s also a small minority, many of them living off campus, that are either unwilling or unable to follow the rules and laws that have been established to protect them and the others around them,” said Larry Church, a 2nd Ward borough council representative at a community forum held at the Indiana Junior High School last week, according to a Feb. 18 article in The Penn.
Students are shifting the blame as well: Jaime Czech, student panelist at last week’s community forum said, “It’s usually not the IUP students who are causing the issues.”
Looking at this year’s homecoming police blotter, IUP students are responsible for 15 of 31 alcohol violations reported by university and borough police.
We’re a little to blame.
If IUP students want residents of Indiana to see them as something more than party animals, we need to show them.
Just as we take space and resources from the Indiana community, we need to give back.
Thomas Williams, an IUP student, volunteer firefighter for the Indiana Fire Association, EMT for Citizens’ Ambulance Service and mentor at Big Hearts, Little Hands, dedicates most of his time to the Indiana community.
“It’s kind of depressing when you have a college town, and there are like 30 little kids that need a mentor and there are none,” Williams said, speaking about his experience at Big Hearts, Little Hands in an interview Wednesday.
Indiana needs students. We’re the most logical source of volunteers, and some students like Williams actually are volunteering.
But we can do more. We can volunteer at places like the Alice Paul House, at Big Hearts, Little Hands, the Indiana County Pennsylvania Humane Society and YMCA of Indiana County. Even organizing an independent group that cleans up neighborhoods around campus where local residents live can make an impact.
If we can show our community that we can be a force of good, students might be cut a little more slack next time homecoming rolls around.
This story was updated 2/23/2014.