The Real OSU

Olivia Short ‘17

College visits can sometimes feel like buying a used car. College reps often give the same speech multiple times a week, and while informative, it can feel rehearsed. Once you’ve heard one “it’s a great environment” speech, you’ve heard them all.

I walked into OSU on November 13th with this semi-cynical attitude about my college visit. The presenter and tour guide were prepared, but nothing really stood out as super interesting. It didn’t help that our tour guide was pretty much my exact opposite– a sporty male finance major. We spent 15 minutes in the rec center and only a few minutes in the 13-floor library. (!!!)

I didn’t dislike the tour, but it just didn’t seem like a me-compatible school right off the bat.

But a few chance encounters after the tour changed my mind– first, in a bookstore. Mama Short and I did some shopping after the tour and found ourselves in Barnes & Noble. The Easton store in Columbus is HUGE, so I had high hopes for its Language section. Almost immediately, I heard “Are you looking for Korean books?” from the tall kid next to me. I was, and he recommended a favorite brand of his. It turned out that he was a Japanese/Linguistics dual major at OSU, and he was so excited to talk to another person interested in studying Linguistics. We talked all about the program at OSU and had a huge nerd conversation for about 10 minutes.

When we arrived back at the hotel, I looked around on my phone for a bit. Because I had been on the OSU wifi network, I was able to see the school’s Snapchat story with snaps submitted by real students. The first thing I saw was a video of students marching, set to a steady chant of “Black Lives Matter.”

The Student Union that we’d sat in for a presentation that morning was now occupied by hundreds of students sitting in solidarity with the students of Mizzou. Mimicking other colleges around the nation, #osu2mizzou used nonviolent protest and social media to demand safe campuses for black students. (The Mizzou movement began with anonymous threats of violence toward black students via Yikyak and Twitter a few weeks ago– in response, Mizzou students and others have led protests demanding that these threats be taken seriously and.) Buckeyes occupied the Student Union for over 7 hours, and many spent the night there. (See a video compilation from the occupation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wed0J-GZhKM )
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While the Mizzou protests are born of serious threats, I feel lucky to have had access to the Snapchat story on the day I did. OSU students became more than smiley people on a poster– now they were brave, radical youth who do things in the world. Both these encounters showed me the real heart of OSU much better than the generic, PR-approved shpeels.

If you’re planning college visits, keep your eyes peeled for candid little things like this. You’ll get a real sense of the school’s vibe.

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