To label Wisconsin as anything other than a party school is considered a slight to most Badgers. A year after taking my nervous first steps onto this campus, I’m still trying to wrap my head around how, in all my hours of research and determination on what university would be my home for the next four years, I skipped over this glaring detail. I got caught up in the trees of fantastic programs such as student research, Badger athletic programs, and the Wisconsin Idea, that I failed to notice the actual forest of student life on campus. Within this year, I continue to struggle reconciling my perceived image of Wisconsin and what it actually wound up being like, as well as reconciling scholastics and the heavy social aspect on here on campus.
Plenty of people call Wisconsin a “work hard, play hard” type of school. To ignore the obvious connotations of drinking that statement carries with it is folly. However, the faces of our administration like to maintain a public stance of blissful ignorance to the fact that alcohol is so prevalent on our campus. Very rarely, if ever have I felt that the topics of underage drinking tickets, trips to detox, how many sexual assaults involve alcohol, and more, have been addressed with any substance or chutzpah. While press conferences from the top down would help set goals and directions for our student body, a grassroots movement could provide students the level of involvement that is difficult to see when looking at the chancellor or the Board of Regents. Wisconsin’s foremost student ambassadors are its athletes, student leadership and employees, and it’s high time for them to take responsibility for reflecting well upon our school and the student body as a whole. They are the bridge between the suits, the educational institution, and those who learn from it.
What does it look like when an athlete has a drinking ticket and is allowed to stay on their team with little to no repercussions? How is the image of the average Wisconsin student affected when a sexual assault or other scandal is committed by someone we thought we could trust to represent the Badgers? Regardless of who does it, every one of these incidents detracts from our image as a whole; when executed by those we have chosen to represent our school, everyone’s image suffers.
I wouldn’t dream of enacting some kind of nightmarish vision of Puritan moral values and have our athletes act as some kind of puppets to preach to our students on the importance of abstaining from alcohol and other unsavory behaviors. What we need is for the men and women who represent us on the field, in the media and behind the scenes to hold themselves to a higher standard. We must strike a balance between being tolerant of the urges to have (too) good of a time going out on a weekend night with that of proving that our athletes are professionals, and integral pillars of moral values to our student community.
When our athletes, ASM representatives, student workers, and everyone else that wears the Motion W as a representative of this school polices themselves and how they act, their behavior unifies the campus by looking towards the example set by them. A rising tide lifts all ships, and in the moralistic aspect, let these ambassadors to the university be our vessels.
Sergey is an sophomore majoring in international studies and economics. Please send all questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.