The Collegian

September 19, 2005     California State University, Fresno

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Lefties have rights too

A look at the stereotypical college student

Letters to the Editor

A look at the stereotypical college student

By Kristen Hoverman
The Collegian

I was watching a movie the other night after a long week at school. It was one of those stereotypical movies portraying college students as lazy, self absorbed, alcoholic sex maniacs who only care about one thing, when’s the next party?

The characters in these films are always the same. You have the jock in flip-flops that is dating the sorority girl in a pencil skirt, who is friends with the tattooed-slacker who rarely comes to class, who picks on the audio-visual geek and lastly the weird loner student who doesn’t fit in. Put all these people together, add a wild party and poof you have yourself a teen movie.

Sometimes they will mix up the plot by adding the band nerd, the choirgirl or some snobby rich kid, but in a nutshell this is how college students are portrayed in movies.

Given this perspective, is this really what people think college students are like?

Searching the Internet for studies on perceptions of college students only wielded a collection of dirty jokes, movie advertisements and Web sites where term papers can be purchased starting at $5.99. This got me wondering about how the media portrays college students and how it affects how people see college students.

I was talking with someone the other day about the subject. She was frustrated by a girl in her class who was talking while the professor was giving a lecture and she became angry when the girl said,” I am so glad that I am back in school, because I missed the parties.”

Claudia McDonald, an office technician for the state, said she believes that college students are lazy partiers. “From what I’ve noticed and what I’ve read the grade doesn’t mean as much as it used to,” McDonald said. “They’re dumbing down the whole system.”

Others interviewed said public stereotypes of college students were incorrect. “There is less usage of drugs and partying,” said Mike Pfister, a 1982 graduate of Fresno State, “things that have been there in the past.”

“The job market is more competitive now,” Pfister said. “They have less free time.”

Larry Ramirez, alumnus, respects college students. “For the most part, I think they are focused on a mission to get an education.”

“I look upon college students as working a full-time job and not getting paid,” Ramirez said. “Their payment is their diploma.”

Of course students are focused, especially with the price they pay for their education. And yet college students are often judged by what people see in the movies.

“I am a college student...I drink Beast from a keg and Busch Light from a can. I will walk in the cold, dark and snow for beer but refuse to go to class in the same weather,” Ramirez said.

“I think everyone should go partying,” he said. “However, I think the media blows it out of proportion.”

Kevin Shady, a hazardous substances engineer, believes there is no straight answer. “Yeah, there are college students who just party, “Shady said. “There are also students who don’t party, spend their time studying in the library and don’t cheat.”

“But how do you learn to behave at a cocktail party without going to a party in college?” Shady said.

Clayton Eha, a history major at Fresno State, believes the stereotyping of college students is unfairly based off a small percentage of students who are trying to figure out who they are after high school. “Many campuses get the negative connotation of being like Old School or being like American Pie where it’s nothing but sex, drugs and rock-n-roll 24 hours a day,” Eha said.

A perfect example of one school becoming the media’s stereotype for the behavior of other college students is California State University, Chico.

Chico has become a college that has drawn negative attention to the CSU system stemming from a case of alcohol poisoning in January and a hazing death in February.

As a result, Chico plays into the media’s stereotype of the wild, out of control college.

When recent legislation against Chico’s Greek system was handed down last month, banning alcohol from fraternity houses and shutting down Rush week, many CSU students took notice.

“You’re never supposed to judge a book by its cover,” Eha said, “But it’s kind of hard when you’ve got people wearing Corona T-shirts and Guinness T-shirts, which I’m guilty of.”

“I think stereotyping is a pretty harsh thing to do, laziness is inherent in everybody not just a group of people,” he said.

These days college students are carrying extra heavy loads, paying more for tuition, managing their homework time and proving to the world that they are hardworking people who deserve more credit than the outdated, overused stereotypes allow.

As a pseudo-choirgirl, audio-visual geek with a hint of weird-loner college student, I resent the way college students are stereotyped. Sure some students like to party and some students sleep through classes, I think most college students have at one time or another.

However, the majority of college students take college seriously and work very hard for their education.

It’s unfair to package and sell an image of all college students that only reflects a small population of students and their actions.

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