Going to Western can almost be like living inside two circles of the same Venn diagram. For one, students are part of a large and diverse campus community. Here we can enjoy education, living space, friends, employment, exercise and more – all atop our little hill.
But on a grander scale, Western students are, as the saying goes, Bellinghamsters. And that can be easy to forget when we have everything at our disposal within walking distance. Playing our part as citizens is equally as important as being involved at school, regardless of whether you’re here for four years or 40.
For example, recently Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville requested a state of emergency in regards to the city’s homeless population. Imagine if even one-tenth of our student body organized an effort to relive their situations, it would be remarkable. We are a strong force in the community and our actions can change things.
Community issues such as this require all citizens to pitch in to help, and taking part in bettering our town is the toll for living in such an amazing place. Action should be an item on the agenda of every Western student.
But beyond your average civil duties, Bellingham is a city waiting to be explored in any way possible.
Of the some 83,000 people living in the City of Subdued Excitement, over 15,000 of those are Western students. With 92 percent of freshman living on campus their first year here, there’s a whole lot of Vikings staying in their comfort zone. College is all about pushing your boundaries, so getting out there should almost be mandatory for freshmen.
Certainly those of us who have come to Western from another city have experienced the sort of displaced feeling upon venturing out into the city proper. It’s new, different and it seems like everyone has these super sweet rain jackets (do I throw out my umbrella?).
That feeling should be abandoned. Bellingham welcomes us with open arms to explore and become a part of it. It’s simply a matter of jumping in.
If we think of ourselves as only visitors to Bellingham, it’s much easier to not give the city the respect it deserves. Maintaining a relationship with the community is beneficial to everyone.
When students disrespect the community with loud parties or littering, the community is quick to cast all Western students in a negative light. This is no way to be seen and obviously does not apply to everyone. As students, it is our responsibility to display ourselves as we would like to be seen.
Get a job in the community. Join a club or team outside of Western. Volunteer in any capacity or become politically active— it’s hard to go wrong. We have thousands of active minds and bodies ready to help this city along.
As students at Western, don’t let Bellingham just be the city you go to school in. Let it be your home.