On December 18, 2009, This American Life, a radio show that selects different themes every week and put together different kinds of stories on that theme, chose a very controversial topic, which had a remarkable effect on my attitude toward it. Before I express my opinion on the topic, I would like to state that the production behind This American Life is phenomenal. Although I have only heard a select few episodes, the creativity and quality of each show intrigued me to keep listening. This specific installment, episode 396, interested me on two levels. The first was how it focused the attention on college students, specifically those of Penn State University. The second was the intent of the episode; Penn State University being named #1 Party School in America.
Since I can remember, I have been coming to Penn State home football games, enjoying the renowned creamery ice cream and taking pleasure in the sights and sounds of the Blue Band. This led to applying and ultimately becoming a student of Penn State University. At some point between childhood and adulthood, I realized there is much more to college than a person dressed up as a lion and a coach who wears his khakis too high off of his ankles. Although Penn State has a reputation for extreme tailgating and excessive drinking on Saturday’s during a home football game, I believe the point of this broadcast was to let America know what the modern day college party scene incorporates. Yes, Penn State was named #1 Party School in America, but this is just a rotating crown which students admire and wish to achieve in order to brag to students of other schools. I hope that by summarizing this broadcast, I can convey my opinion on college, partying, and lifestyles of a college student.
Throughout the episode, the hosts use a variety of environments to illustrate the effects of being named #1 Party School in America. The one that intrigued me most was the live broadcast that took place on the porch of State College resident Sarah Koenig. Sarah is also the producer of This American Life. At this point in the segment, they speak of all the alcohol-induced mayhem they witness which includes trespassing drunks, public urination, destruction of property, and the observation of a stop sign being dragged across the sidewalk to a new home. I need not to go into detail in order for you to imagine the events that occurred that, but instead would like to take this opportunity and suggest listening to the episode which is available on This American Life’s website. I could go on and on describing the events I heard, but it is not the same as listening to the comments and remarks made by both parties – students and residents.
Having given a sample of what the episode contains, it is important to mention a few things that may lead to a greater appreciation for episode 396. It is not everyday you get to listen to your environment from a different perspective. Throughout this broadcast, I heard the events and grievances that took place on a football weekend during the fall 2009 semester. From the student perspective, it may just seem like a normal Saturday night, but from the homeowner and listener perspective it is yet another night of protecting the property and dignity of their home and livelihood. After listening to the entire episode, I can say I am embarrassed at how some young adults, specifically college students, conduct their lives. I am sure at some point in my life I have made a wrong decision that led to a consequence, but I try to live in a well-rounded way as to not harm or upset my peers. If these actions put forth by this group would cease to some degree, many people would be much more satisfied with the college student population, which would eventually lead to mutual respect. I’m not saying that students shouldn’t have fun. College is supposed to be one of the most enjoyable times of a person’s life. Just have fun in a responsible manner.