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Featured Opinion — 10 December 2011
What I know for sure…

These kinds of things usually come in May, but I have never been one for following the supposed norm.

The majority of seniors are preparing for their final semester in the spring, but along with a few others, I’ll be departing this lovely land of Utica next week. That still has not yet really set in for me, but I’m hardly one to get choked up about it.

Admittedly I spent the majority of my time here either jokingly or seriously making fun of the area. It’s not a bustling metropolis (as I would often sarcastically call it) and it is not anything I would go out of my way to see.

And while I still sort of hesitate call this place “home,” (alright, I still wince a little on that) there have been some pretty great things that have happened to me here and I have some people to thank as I depart.

Over three-plus years here I have also picked up a few things that should be shared. At this point it is likely that a few of you will be questioning why you should care what I have to say. While I think you’ll find the following worthwhile, I won’t lose sleep if you feel otherwise.

Utica is certainly a place to which many need to adjust. There are a lot of students here from downstate, where there is a little more action surrounding daily life.

Soccer is what brought me here and in the end soccer will forever be entrenched in my memory of this place. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to feel what it is like to win a tournament game, but I do firmly believe I will know what it is like to watch Utica win a conference championship in men’s soccer very soon.

Thank you to the players, the coaches and of course, the great Jim Spartano. If you haven’t had the opportunity to get to know him – and I got that impression from a lot of non-athletes even when he was being honored last week – you should really stop by and just say hello and ‘thank you’ before semester’s end.

Thank you to everyone in the Strebel Dining Commons, all of who are extremely personable and friendly. The same goes to a very down to earth Campus Safety crew. It’s been a pleasure.

If you are undecided on your major, give public relations or journalism a try. Every professor has been spectacular in my experience here. Credit to all of them for a maintaining a great program that carries on the standards set by the great Ray Simon.

For you PR-J majors not part of The Tangerine, join it. Really. And start a blog, write whenever possible and read the work of writers you look up to.

Do yourself a favor and go to the Office of Career Services before ever seek employment. The help that I have received from there, particularly from Halina Lotyczewski, has been tremendous in the tedious and sometimes discouraging game of the job search.

Finally, thanks to Father Paul over at the Newman Center for being the absolute man. He’s one of the most level-headed guys I know and it’s been so great to attend his masses (I’ll be back when I can).

Surely I’ve left people out or only indirectly referenced them and for that I apologize. It’s tough cramming a few years into a thousand words.

Some random things I have to get off my chest (forgive any cynicism):

  • First, a question: Would you rip up your home furniture, dump garbage around your house, urinate on your living room floor or cook food in a laundromat dryer at home? No? Then why are you doing that in the dorms? Grow up. In a few years (or maybe months), you won’t be in a college dorm where maintenance (and I truly apologize to the whole crew on behalf of all students for having to deal with these things) won’t be there to clean up after you. College is about maturing. Some of us need to do that.
  • Fewer people than you think actually want your speakers facing out your windows so the entire quad can her your tasteless music. And you may soon lose your hearing at that volume of music.
  • I challenge this campus – and every campus – to create an initiative where even just for one weekend each year, to start, there is a campus-wide effort to initiate fun, engaging and “dry” programming. You can have a lot of fun without alcohol or any substances for that matter, and you may just remember those good times as well.
  • I have nothing but good things to say about athletics here, but I do have one main request. Opponents need to know that when they come here they are in for a battle. They need to dread coming to Utica and get rattled by being on the road. Many of our teams are finding the necessary success to demand respect. However, we are yet to make this a true home field advantage in anything other than football and men’s ice hockey. Far too many people have told me they have been thrown out of our men’s soccer games (and other sports) for uttering some innocuous statement to an opposing team. This is Utica. This is not Rochester or Hoboken or anywhere else. We need a home field advantage. I don’t condone verbal attacks by any means, but the way it stands now the crowds are limited to almost no chatter beyond basic cheering. I know the Aud is off campus, but if we can have hundreds of people yelling at a goalie that “it’s all your fault, sieve” or your team “still sucks,” then why is it not acceptable at other sporting events? That’s a double standard. When men’s soccer goes on the road, we get absolutely degraded by fans at places like Union, Keuka and Alfred. And you know what? It definitely gets in your head. But teams come here and we treat them like we are their babysitters. That needs to change and I suppose that it may start with putting members of SAAC, the Athletic department and Campus Safety in the same room to brainstorm.

If I can leave you all with anything, it would be a few simple sentiments:

  • Be nice to each other. We often overlook what it can mean to simply say hello and smile or to bite our tongues when we may want to say something mean. Be as friendly as possible, always. One man on this campus that comes to mind is a guy that I’m willing to bet 99 percent of those reading this don’t know. His name is Jim and he is a facilities worker that I have only ever seen in the Clark Athletic Center. I’ve never seen the man unhappy. He is literally always smiling. When we would enter the building at 5 a.m. for morning practices, he would already be there, smiling, saying hello and doing his thing. Jim, you may not know me beyond facial recognition and the occasional hello, but you’re a good man.
  • Don’t just follow the crowd. It’s pretty easy to do, I know. I’m not claiming to have never done it, either. But as you get into the latter stage of college, most of you will have an idea of the person you want to at least try to be. If that doesn’t jive with what people around you think you should be, don’t just change. If you want to read a killer book on a Friday night, do it. And don’t be ashamed of it, either.
  • Keep it classy. From some of the things I’ve seen in my time here, I’m just going to leave this one broad and all-inclusive. No matter what the subject, if you keep it classy, you’ll be better for it.

I don’t at all mean to come off negative in this. Hopefully even one sentence of this helps somebody out there. I have no doubt that I have grown up considerably here. And while I will probably always make wise cracks about Utica (only half seriously), I can never be too hard on the place. I am, after all, in debt to this college for giving me the opportunity to meet one incredible young woman.

Later, Utes,

— Kassouf

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