Timberlake: Your university, your playground


Jaslyn Clark/Iowa State Daily

Feng Zhao, Ph.D student, throws a frisbee to his friend, fellow Ph.D student Chuanhai Zhang (not pictured) in central campus on Sept. 9, 2013. 

Ian Timberlake

Euphoria inducing, pupil dilating, incandescent liberation: Recess has commenced and children are bursting out of the cafeteria door like a bunch of bees vacating their hive with sticky fingers and a one-track mind.

You all remember the time when the only things that mattered were the options that lay before your eyes in the immediate moment.

The monkeys and their monkey bars. The lords of the swings. The dandelion pickers. The bookies playing wizard. The hot lava club. The ball bin where your hour’s glory would be decided by the kickball, football or soccer ball. Everyone had their cherry to pick for one hour every day.

At university, everyone has their cherry to pick, all day, everyday.

You have been liberated from your adolescence and now live freely on an oasis of opportunity. There is literally no better place in the world to get involved in your interests than right here in a campus town.

If you want to play a sport, join Fencing Club. You want to experience the outdoors? Join the Mountaineering and Climbing Club — or go on one of the many highly affordable trips that ISU Recreation Services has to offer. You want to find someone of similar culture as you? Join any of the many cultural clubs. If you want to support a belief, join the Latter Day Saints or the Atheist and Agnostic Society. If you want to explore your sexuality, join Cuffs. You want to blow glass: Join the Gaffers’ Guild. You want to volunteer: Then join Best Buddies. You want to demonstrate your passions? Join the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

There are literally hundreds of extracurricular organizations you could join. These include groups that govern the various happenings on campus, such as the Government of the Student Body.

The list of intramurals is endless: adventure race, Texas Hold’em, NCAA basketball pick’em, ice hockey, table tennis doubles, curling, broomball, battleship H20, ultimate Frisbee and more.

On top of all this, you have myriad facilities at your fingertips. The gym and recreation centers, among others, offer many outlets for excess energy you might have. You could go to either of the climbing walls, play racquetball with a friend, dive off the diving boards and float in the resistance pools like the first-world anarchist you are.

Stroll the Reiman Gardens, run the cross-country course, longboard down Union Drive, sled down the Knoll, play ultimate Frisbee on Central Campus, make out with your special someone under the Campanile, play music in the Music Hall soundrooms, photograph the Lake LaVerne swans… run from Curtiss to Beardshear naked at midnight before the bells stop reverberating (but you didn’t get that idea from me).

And when you trip over the ISU Police or bang yourself up, go to the Thielen Student Health Center for your Band Aids… and free condoms.

Hopefully, you have thought ahead to what your life will be like once you graduate. If it’s anything like the majority of college graduates, you will be waking up early in the morning, driving to work where you will work for eight or so hours a day (hopefully doing something you love), getting off work and maybe going out for a drink with co-workers, then coming home and making dinner. After all of that, you’ll get to finally relax and go to bed. It is also unlikely you will be living somewhere that offers the same opportunity your college playground offered.

Your playground is waiting, but only for the few years you’re here.

Want to meet the love of your life? Get out and participate in one of the many things I suggested above, just don’t go to the ISU hosted speed dating on Valentine’s Day, trust me. Your playground makes for infinite possibilities for first or 23rd date ideas. Don’t be boring and go to a coffee shop. Take your date to the swings or the monkeybars.

Iowa State is brimming with everything it means to be human, all in one place. Lets not forget what a university does. It spearheads all forms of thought, which is why all of you should fill your role as an intellectual. This includes taking advantage of the opportunities provided by your campus “playground.” Being an intellectual is no more than maintaining the status quo of the success of humanity. To do anything less would be subverting the human species one profound thought at a time. Your brain is also a playground; work to keep it that way.