Too often at UTD, students are letting outdated schemas of the “extremely eccentric, antisocial student” define themselves and the student body as a whole. The oft offensive and shortsighted meme, Total Comet Move, perfectly defines this relationship. Browsing the UT Dallas sub-reddit or new student Facebook discussion groups, the most common complaint revolves around one thing—the social life at UTD.
Based on the results of a survey of 81 UTD students, most people seem almost too busy with established social activities and commitments to add any more socializing into their schedule. Even if the student body isn’t participating in Greek round up, tailgating or other “typical” college activities, UTD students are still socializing—just in our own way. We’re going to concerts, playing and watching sports, shopping, visiting art museums, participating in outdoor activities, going to bars and experiencing a full breadth of extracurriculars—or so the survey would indicate. Those sports may be ultimate Frisbee or rock climbing, and our concerts might be 8-bit punk bands or EDM shows—but we are going out.
At the same time, countless insults concerning the appearance and sexuality of our peers, criticisms of the UTD police, and unfortunately frequent comments on the apparent “curry smells” on campus litter these UTD specific memes and message boards.
We have to be willing to laugh with our own eccentricities without continuing to highlight them as something that needs to change in order for UTD to rise to normality.
All these honest confessions are apparently truthful and accurate judgments about our peers—until an outsider perpetuates these stereotypes. The moment any non-UTD affiliated person attempts to jump in on the joking, there is an army quick to refute their generalizations. If everyone is so keen on the fact that UTD is growing and becoming more like a “real” university—why are these jokes so popular? Many of them are hurtful judgments against an idea that apparently doesn’t seem to exist.
As students during one of the biggest growth periods in UTD history, we have the unique opportunity to help define a new generation. The university listens—we just have to speak with one unified message. Honestly, we can’t expect them to push for social activities on campus where we can’t even get 2,300 people to vote for a student fees referenda to build a new student union or rec center—the exact locations these potential activities would occur.
UTD may not have a football team or relaxed policies on underage drinking, but these components should not define the activities of an entire university. If universities in slow-paced West Texas and Central Oklahoma can manage to have infamously social student bodies, UTD should easily be able to incorporate our quirkiness and proximity to Dallas into an extremely active and entertaining campus.
Let’s stop internally priding ourselves on attending such an intelligent, responsible university while publicly degrading these same ideas. Our unconventional inclinations and academic mentality are things we should embrace openly.
Ultimately, if students don’t like what the social life of UTD has to offer, they are fortunate to be only a DART ride away from the ninth largest city in the US.