As students, we hold ourselves accountable to our own special constitution, which finds that all minds are created equal, and are fortified by the discoveries of those who have come before us. You can either believe all these things, or you can recognize the truth. Students in Oregon can’t get any respect.
Home to some of the most influential corporations in the world, Oregon values higher education to the tune of being 46th in the nation for funding. I’m proud to be a student, but a little less proud to be a poorly funded Oregonian student, and I have to consider the effect of poor funding on my identity. This number is embarrassing on so many levels, the least of which is that Washington does almost twice as well. Are Washingtonian students twice as smart? Probably not. After all, they did let the grunge movement die out, and fashion has never been as comfortable since.
Identifying as a student in many ways is the most freeing form of classification out there. The term "student" crosses all lines of age, gender, sex, race and culture. Why then, in Portland, land of bridges and progress, can we students get no satisfaction?
Identity crises seem to be in the air on campus. Portland State University has a brand new, overpriced logo, of which one might say that the design is less than remarkable. The university has released packets informing us on how to use the logo and why we should all be extolling it as a symbol of all that is right with the world. The overpriced bit is ironically similar to the education at Portland State.
Please don’t misunderstand my intentions. What I mean is that it is possible to pay too much for a service without devaluing the benefits and high level of quality evident in so many classes we will be taking this fall. Our professors are often brilliant and engaging, while being underpaid and understaffed. The only identity more rewarding than that of a student is that of an educator, and please, let the appreciation flow. But how does insurmountable debt increase our chances for returning the favor? Herein lies the veritable quandary for today’s Portland student. The community that has inspired and brought us thus far in life has begun to snub our station, and identifying as a student is now more hindering than ever.
The Portland State campus is urban and open; the city’s Park Blocks run through it. Our school is a long-time staple of culture and diversity in Portland and this is all made possible by its students. Where’s our publicity? The next time you’re online, checking your e-mail and countless profiles for new comments, go to any major Oregon publication’s website and type "Portland State University" in its search engine. The results will yield a pathetic amount of current and relevant hits for the tremendous impact we make on Oregon.
I’ve spoken with some of you, including one very snazzy campus leader, and have been told that being a student is somewhat incapacitating in other ways as well. Many buildings downtown will not rent apartments to full-time students, even if your daddy or your partner have been paying all your expenses (and I will cop to both). Students are preyed upon relentlessly by credit card companies offering buy now/pay later schemes, and when we can’t pay our debt, they attack us even more. Students are assigned a range of labels, from stuck-up to stoner, from headstrong to hippie. Where does our true identity lie? I think we all know how to answer that. It’s in our passion, our papers, our late cramming sessions. It’s in mountains of pizza boxes, towers of coffee cups and sky-high piles of laundry. It’s in the way we will someday leave this campus in a flurry of ambitions, goals and achievements. It’s how we all know that true education never really ends and that life can swell with joy at the culmination of hard work and long-overdue credit.
Our reputation as students is rocky and subject to outside speculation, whereas our identity is not. OK, so we don’t get the sound stage we deserve. We must suffer at the hands of bureaucratic property management companies who don’t appreciate our right to poverty as students. We will never get the credit companies to be straight up about how much all the unnecessary merchandise we just charged will actually end up costing us. Maybe we’ll never be funded as well as our Seattle counterparts. You and I both know, when it’s time for the world to assign us our next identifier, they will be speechless. The students of Portland State University are ready to knock it out of the park. This we can promise, and that, my dear readers, is how our true identity is born.