The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
With May and the end of the school year comes graduation and the proverbial pushing out of the nest into the “real world” for roughly a quarter of the undergraduates at Miami. As with every year, this is a bittersweet moment for these outgoing seniors, as well as the university at large. For those graduating, it is a time to reflect on their place in the world as they accept new responsibilities.
In that reflection, we would like to remind graduating seniors and other students of the place they stand today, in southwest Ohio, where you chose live and learn. It is important to remember that these past years have not just taken place in the mythical faraway land of Miami University, but in the communities of Oxford, Butler County and the region as a whole.
All too often, it feels as though Miami students think of this place as a stepping stone to a larger career elsewhere. But this area has real people with real needs and real livelihoods, and it should be treated as such.
The tale of the forgotten demographics of rural midwestern areas, such as Butler County, is one that has gained more attention following the most recent presidential election. The Hillybilly Elegy, America: unwound. By staying connected with this area, we can better understand the lives and frustrations expressed by residents of the so-called “flyover states.”
One should not take this to mean that it is wrong to pursue your passions outside of this community or to move to the place you most want to reside in, but that it is important to pay tribute to the place that fostered your growth academically, socially and intellectually. And to truly make a difference goes beyond most monetary contributions. Reflection and advice to administrators, encouragement to students still living in town, and diligence to issues not yet solved can greatly affect how the Miami student population operates. A select few may volunteer, but everyone can make the community one that is celebrated. Uptown gatherings like the Oxford Farmer’s Market have proven that fact, and increase appreciation of where we live.
Additionally, know that Chicago, New York and Los Angeles are not the only cities that need skilled and educated citizens. This region, and regions like it, have people that need healthcare, housing, informative media and other services in fields that Miami students pursue degrees in.
Above all, no matter where you live, it is important for those graduating to remember to stay connected with any community in which you are a part . It is easy to connect with a college community, a professional cohort, or those who have similar aspirations. But outside class bubbles, it is our responsibility not to ignore areas in need. The areas exist everywhere, and will continue to exist, wherever you go.
The Oxford experience has likely become a part of you as you have been through your semesters here. Expression of that part, inwardly and outwardly, is key to getting the most out of it for everyone involved.