Forgive me in advance for eavesdropping, but I’ve decided cell phone conversations in public are fair game for critique. On a recent occasion, I had the great misfortune to hear a Bennie say, “I’m actually at school in St. Cloud right now,” into her iPhone as she strolled into Mary Commons wearing a Bennie Pride shirt.
Geographically, St. Cloud is just over 8 miles down Division Street, so I was perplexed by the comment, though hers is one that’s repeated far too often. I’ve done it. My friends have done it. Heck, my professors have done it. We’ve decreed that “CSB/SJU” is somehow in St. Cloud, and haven’t blinked an eye. While our nearness to St. Cloud is surely not negligible, someone is losing in this battle of tongues: The City of St. Joseph.
By pretending our school is conveniently located in St. Cloud, we’re doing a disservice to the charming city we live in. In anyone’s time here, ignoring the culture of St. Joseph is undeniably shameful. Though our campus offers many avenues to be engaged within the body of CSB/SJU, we have a responsibility to be active participators in the larger community. Each day, the Link rolls in and out of campus on Minnesota Street, passing through a city that thrives off the local musicians who serenade evening patrons at The Local Blend, boasts Minnesota’s first consecrated church, and sustains the delightful tales of sellers with fabulous produce at the weekly farmer’s market.
So, in the past week, when two upperclassmen asked me how to get the Minnesota Street Market, I was astonished that there existed two whole students who didn’t know the location of this important establishment. (In its prominent location between the Middy and Sal’s, it should be a walk well known to many students!). Even fewer could name the Mayor of “St. Joe” in an unscientific poll I conducted while working at the circulation desk in Clemens Library.
These poor souls were not the same folks that attended the Mill Stream Arts Festival, and I have yet to see them at the St. Joseph Area Historical Society. As a student body, we’re ignoring the culture of the place we are physically in, swapping it out, by name, for convenience sake with a larger one down the road. What’s the benefit of telling others our school is in St. Cloud other than being able to identify it on a map?
When we say we “go to school in St. Cloud,” we’re denying a significant part of our existence at CSB/SJU. The City of St. Joseph, and Collegeville too, are beautiful communities worthy and capable of standing by their own names. These places should not remain under-appreciated and under-explored by the students of our institution. So let’s explore St. Joe, and be active members of this community. Become a co-op member. Take a walk to Millstream Park. Meet the Mayor. But most importantly, don’t tell anyone you “go to school in St. Cloud.”