The 50th Anniversary of USF will, no doubt, be heralded by great fanfare. Faculty and staff will be infusing their introductory lectures with class pride in order to inspire motivation and excellence throughout the semester, and there’s even a coffee table book full of historical facts about the University. Words full of praise have been and will continue to be heaped on this University in honor of 50 years.
When honoring something, the line between unrealistic romanticism and reality can be a hard one to toe, given the wide spectrum of experiences that can be had at an enormous institution like USF. With all due respect to USF and its big five-oh, I have been a USF student long enough to know what awaits the population of this University today, and it’s no utopian experiment.
It’s the same every year: no one can find a parking spot; everyone has to get to class or be dropped; most students are worried about their financial aid; people will be overloading OASIS for the next two weeks, and until students begin skipping classes regularly, this campus will be insufferably congested. Everyone, from the highest-ranking administrator to the greenest freshman, will be at the end of their ropes. For some, it will even seem like a silly college degree isn’t worth all of the nonsense. I’ve been there myself.
I have a game for the multitudes of people who will inevitably feel that way during these notoriously unpleasant first few days of classes. When Warren Buffet spoke at the University of Florida in 1998, he played this game with the students he was talking to.
After being in school for a few weeks and getting to know the people in your classes, suppose you could buy 10 percent of one of your classmates for the next 20 years. The purchase is non-transferable, so you can’t change your mind. The value of the 10 percent rises and falls depending on the achievement and happiness of the person you invested in. But you’re not allowed to choose the person with the richest parents – their worth is based purely on their merit.
It’s unlikely that an IQ test would be a good measure of worth. Similarly, choosing the best-looking person, the most energetic person or even the person with the best grades would probably be a mistake. The person you would most likely pick is the one who responds well to others. The person who is generous, possesses leadership qualities and has integrity is the best choice.
All of these positive qualities are self-decided. At the same time, so are negative qualities that might signal a bad investment- greed, laziness or dishonesty. If someone has those negative qualities, they can change them. To a large extent, every student attending USF is in control of his or her destiny. Try hard enough, and you might find the person you’d most like to own 10 percent of is yourself. It’s a worthwhile goal.
It’s also not a new idea. Everyone here who is achieving those positive qualities and rejecting the negative ones is reflective of students past. For the past 50 years, intelligent people have been putting up with an infinite amount of inconvenience and expense in order to attend USF. In order to make themselves more successful and more like the ones they admire, millions of students have flocked to USF’s halls, earning degrees and experience that bring them closer to their goals. USF’s history, prestige and economic impact are evidence of that.
The 50th anniversary of USF is a big deal. Fifty years is longer than most students – and more than a few professors – have been alive, and the economic impact made by USF is an amount of money far greater than most students will ever see in their lifetime. However, it all started with people who realized that making themselves more worthwhile was possible, and tried to do so to the best of their abilities.
Perhaps even after 50 years, some things don’t change much.
Jordan Capobianco is a senior majoring in English literature and is the Oracle’s opinion editor.