I stand again in awe amidst the mountains of my intellectual youth. These proud edifices of knowledge at the University of South Florida (USF) revive memories of a restless time, fueled by endless tensions of student discontent. We challenged our professors to provide relevance to their lectures and demanded action to prove their worth in a turbulent world. It seemed we were always one.
On the USF campus each weekend, we mellowed to folk sounds at the “Empty Keg” as we laughed innocently at our green beer servers. Flaunting our long hair and hippie attire, we demanded our right to be groovy. In the darkened recesses of our cave, shouts of Tolstoy and Marx filled the air. We realized in these moments that our generation must be listened to.
Standing atop a grassy knoll nearby the Student Center, our peace signs protested the hypocrisy surrounding us. What gave our government the right to require us to serve in a war we did not believe in? Why did our President lie to us about our place in the world order? Why were the rights of women and blacks still ignored by the political process? Our gathering on this sacred ground would sustain our momentum for change.
Now it has all gone quiet. Paying homage to our digital device culture, great thinking no longer serves the day on campus. Is there hope for rebellion when students stand passively in Starbucks today to discuss their latest latte? I watch students walk busily to class as if there is no time to linger now in thought. A drop in and drop out commuter culture rules the day.
Where is the groove found now? A crowded, parking lot cannot replace the sacred, protest hill of my youth. A meaningless barrage of Facebook messages will never suffice for gatherings of true, intellectual thought. The jock image of a football jersey debases the world-changing purpose of scholarship that I sought in the USF experience. We all got up to dance for revolution but they will never get a chance.