Let’s Work on a Bit of PR
Thinking and exploring outside of the bubble
I came to Dickinson from a town whose population is only twice that of the school’s, where there are at least as many cows as there are people in the surrounding area, you have go to another town if you want to eat anything other than pizza and you can actually get lost in someone’s backyard. Trust me, Carlisle seemed like a metropolis after that.
Maybe one of the reasons that so many of us struggle with downsizing to Carlisle is because we’re not taking full advantage of the resources that are available to us here. Weekend life is perhaps not the greatest, fair enough. But Dickinson offers an amazing array of lectures, concerts, art exhibitions, athletic events and performances, many of which are under-attended. This year alone we have had the privilege of hosting amazing guest speakers including Margaret Atwood, Elyse Fenton and Jennifer Egan. For a small school in the middle of Pennsylvania, that is pretty awesome. Dickinson also boasts incredibly interesting and talented students and faculty – go see what people are doing.
It is so easy to settle into a set routine and ignore what is going on around us, both on campus and in Carlisle. This actually affects Dickinson’s relationship with the wider community. I was talking with the manager at the Hamilton, a diner on High Street, and the conversation turned to Dickinson students and how they have changed in the past 20 years. He told me that he used to have students in the Hamilton all of the time, but lately the restaurant’s relationship with the school has dropped off sharply. He thinks it is because students today do not want the kind of comfortable, family atmosphere that the Hamilton offers; they would much rather have organic food in a much trendier setting. He never used the words “entitled” or “snobs,” but it was apparent in his discomfort and careful word choice that this is how he views us: we think that we are too good to eat at restaurants like the Hamilton.
This is not a “town versus gown” issue that you would find at a university like Oxford, for instance, but it is worrying. If people in Carlisle hold that view of students, who’s to say what rifts might open between Dickinson and the town in coming years?
I am not going to argue with the idea that Dickinson students are privileged and can be overly picky in our menu choices, but I do not think that is the sole issue. I really think that a lot of students just don’t know that places like the Hamilton are there. There is a great, wide world of restaurants in Carlisle beyond Miseno’s and Issei, but how often do we break out of our familiar patterns to try them?
I am absolutely as guilty as the next person of staying within the Dickinson bubble, and now that I am about to graduate I am realizing just how much I have not seen or done in and around Carlisle. Do yourself a favor and start exploring now. You’re going to be living here for a few years, so you might as well get to know the town and what it does have to offer. And you might even do a little public relations work along the way.
What are some of your favorite things to do around Carlisle? Let me know on the Dickinsonian’s Facebook page, or on Twitter - it’s @TheDickinsonian.