Hi there, my name is Soren Smithrud, and I’m a volunteer writer for The Siskiyou. I have been given the opportunity to leave a note to SOU as a sort of sendoff as the year comes to a close. My time at SOU has been a long and unique experience. In my four years here I have met the wonderful staff and professors of SOU, and so many of the students that bring life and personality to campus.
When I first arrived in Ashland, I didn’t know what to expect. I was told college would like every 90’s film I had ever seen: with red solo cups and wacky adventures of odd pranks usually involving cow tipping. What I was provided with was much more entertaining and educational. SOU gave me and others what I believe to be an inviting, warm, community-driven campus experience. Engagement events intent on not only pursuing students participation with the school, but encouraging meetings with other students and creating bonds outside of classroom or dorm settings. Whether it was movie nights, pancake feeds, karaoke bar nights, or even a haunted house, SOU put in the time and effort to make campus life fun.
Something strange also occurred to me as I looked back on the years passed: everyone at SOU seems to be in on it. Every single person who works or volunteers here is in on this giant conspiracy to make college an amazing experience. From ASSOU and RHA to EPIC and student run clubs, there has been no shortage (nor do I expect there to become one) on passionate members of the SOU community. There is guile and craft in the time taken to build and grow a community like ours. I’ve written previous articles about some of SOU’s events, but those don’t touch on the background of what goes into making those events happen or the care taken afterwards. Most of the time (on other campuses, I’m assuming) when you go to an event, you just show up and have little to no say what you’ll see or do, really. However, at SOU we are given several emails as not only reminders of the events, but to see what they need to prepare for those coming. They ask for dietary restrictions and give updates what to bring during the events dependent of weather. Even after the event they send out emails to gauge what people liked and what they want to see again. This may seem boring or possibly mundane to others, but it’s the small things like these that remind me of the effort going into the events displayed. Another show of love from the people of SOU.
In high school I lived in a bubble; there wasn’t much taught or talked about if it wasn’t pertinent to others beliefs and teachings. SOU feels like walking in an outdoor theater, open and free to express yourself. I was introduced to terms never brought up in my bubble back home. I had never thought about the kind of expression someone could experience by stepping into a classroom and being open and comfortable telling classmates their pronouns. We are given the chance to be our truest selves in college, and SOU loves self-expression. I mean, look at all the kinds of student unions we have based on culture, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, or just being new to campus! These groups and organizations bring an openness and sense of community to students who feel lost or in need of self-exploration. SOU thrives on old and new cultures, and does their best to let students be who they are or discover who they can be.
I’ve said a lot about SOU and what they offer. If anything, this sounds like a promotional advertisement about why someone should go here (which it could be, frankly). But my intention is clear. I want to thank SOU for all the things I’ve pointed out and more. They’ve given us something we cannot forget. Not just an education or a degree, but a kind of second home, a place to build ourselves into our true forms. So, before I graduate and leave this place for the next writers to take their stand, I give a congratulations to those coming into or finishing up their future years. I wish you the best, and will be waiting to see what you become in the metamorphic process everyone goes through when they enter college.
Goodbye Southern Oregon University. Thanks for the Future.