Digging deeper

Chase Robinson

I lied. I said I was leaving the Tropolitan. I packed up my office, wrote a schmaltzy farewell column and prepared to leave the Trop behind.

I came back. The first week of May, just as the last issue of the spring semester was starting to gather dust, I decided I should write a weekly column while I complete my internship. The staff was agreeable to this proposal.

It wasn’t until after the decision had been made that I came across a startling revelation. A column requires a topic. I had about 14 weeks to find one.

Seven weeks later I decided it was probably time to give this some serious consideration. It is amazing how many bad ideas you can come up with when you are drawing at straws.

With two weeks on the clock, I was fairly certain that my column should focus on current goings-on around campus. But that could be tedious for both the readers and me, so I dismissed the idea.

As reported by The New York Times, Time, Complete College America and the National Institution for Educational Statistics, more than half of students at public universities take more than four years to complete a four-year degree.

I am part of that statistic, and, with five years of higher education under my belt, surely I should have found something worth writing about. In 10 semesters, I should have learned something about Troy University that let me read its pulse and produce interesting material.

I looked back at my files and combed the Trop archives. There were stories about parking, book prices, dining hours, SGA meetings, school spirit, religion, housing, smoking and what, if anything, to do in Troy.

Before I was involved with the Trop, I was a frequent participant in after-class gripe sessions about all these overbeaten dead horses. As a reporter and editor for the Trop, I aided and abetted the battery of these metaphorical lifeless equines.

If I stared at these complaints and facts long enough, maybe some greater truth would emerge that I could publish every Thursday for the next few months.

I’d been hearing many of these same discussions since I was small. As I’ve said in a few bad pieces published in the Cardinal Rule, the Trop’s game-day publication, I’m from Troy. My family has lived in this area nearly 200 years, and I’m a third generation student at Troy University.

With 200 years of family history, three generations of Trojans, five years of higher education, time logged in three different majors and 2.5 years of student journalism at my disposal, surely I could find some special angle.

My lackluster, late-game revelation was that this experience is my angle. Troy University isn’t my suitcase college. Troy, Alabama, is my hometown. I’ve lived here all 23 long years of my short life.

Many of the problems that get discussed over lunch in the dining hall and in afternoon conversations in the Trojan Center have been topics during my entire life.

Often, we gloss over these problems. We skim the surface and diagnose the symptoms without digging to the cause.

These conversations end with the reminder that Troy does not change, and we resign ourselves to complain about the same problems for another year.

If, rather than dismissing our own complaints as more incurable aches of life in Troy, we seriously consider the causes and effects, we might arrive at a cure for what ails us.

The goal of this column will be to dig deeper, to analyze these problems and look for their real roots. I can’t offer solutions to every complaint, but we can seek perspectives.

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