Opinion: Thank you, Eastern Kentucky University
By Taylor Weiter
Four years. It’s been four years since I moved into Keene Hall (the one place on campus I will not miss) in the pouring rain. I remember getting off the elevator on the sixteenth floor, walking through a dimly lit hallway that didn’t resemble the dorms in television shows or movies, and thinking “This is it? This is supposed to be my new home?”
It didn’t feel like home — and it definitely didn’t look like home. Despite a college visit and an orientation session, my knowledge of Eastern and the city it’s placed in was minimal. I had few to no friends attending the university, no family located in town and no awareness that the city I chose to spend four years of my life in would be without a Target (a major misstep by me). Still, I unpacked my bags, walked with my parents to Colonel Camp orientation and made sure I cried only after my family had left. I was determined to make this work — though I knew a lack of Target would be difficult to get over.
In promotional pamphlets, EKU prides itself in its small class sizes and approachable professors. Academics were my sole reason for attending EKU. I wanted to get a degree in journalism and go to school for free. The idea that classes were small and experiences were better were only added bonuses. What the pamphlets did not mention, however, is that most of the students leave town on the weekends. With parents determined that I get as much out of my college experience as possAible, going home every weekend was not an option. After a year of trying to figure out what to spend my time on, I decided to join as many student organizations as possible.
This isn’t a story about how Greek life changed my life or how every freshman should rush (if you want to read about that, look at one of my three published pieces in previous papers), but I would be remiss if I ignored the impact Greek life had on me. I know that if I had attended another school — a larger school — I would never have gone through recruitment. Why would I need to? EKU’s smaller suitcase-style campus, though, allowed me more opportunities to join organizations like Greek life, student government or even The Eastern Progress. I don’t love that no one is here on the weekends (though it’s excellent for parking), but I do love that it encouraged me to do things I enjoy with a diverse group of people.
My ability to take part in campus activities gave me the unique chance to get to know EKU better. In my time with Greek life, I’ve helped run recruitment, met with campus leaders and even gone on free trips to Indianapolis. In my time at The Eastern Progress, I’ve gotten a closer look at the interworkings of the university, giving me more appreciation for the hard work that faculty and staff do every day (with little pay, thanks Bevin). I’ve gained amazing friends from places I didn’t even know existed and mentors from institutions I couldn’t get into if I tried.
I never gave up while at EKU- even when professors were fired, my major was taken away and friends came and left my life. I made it work — because I felt like EKU was trying to make it work for me, as well. Four years. Man, they went quick.
Taylor Weiter is a senior from Louisville, Kentucky, graduating with a degree in journalism and a minor in political science. Weiter is also the former editor-in-chief of The Eastern Progress and is a regular contributor.