Sunday, February 3, 2019

It's still Morgantown

As you know, "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

For the most part I consider that silly and untrue. Things change, they just do.

And then there is Morgantown, WV, home to West Virginia University, my Alma mator. In the Spring, it will 50 years since I graduated (Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude, I might add, being humble as I am!) But I just saw a news item that demonstrates that after 50 years of change, a lot about Morgantown is the same.

Morgantown has an estimated 2015 population of 31,000. WVU has 29,000 students. Add to that the 10,000 teachers and other staff an the university far out numbers the natives. The metropolitan area has a population of 100,000--which means 1/3 of the whole area is WVU.

So, it has not so much been a Town and Gown kind of thing--but a Town vs. Gown.

Never mind that Morgantown wouldn't be much at all without the university--it's that WVU runs, distorts and brutalizes the town.

After big football wins, mattresses are set on fire in the streets. Weekends are a nightmare for Morgantown, trying to reign in drunk students. Traffic, for such a small place, is a nightmare. And since there are three campuses--downtown, the Mileground campus and the Medical Center campus--nowhere is free of students. A mono-rail between campuses, free to ride, helps the town, but not much else does--besides the economic payoff to a small town.

I saw on line there are 27 hotels and motels in Morgantown. What other town of that size has that? People visiting WVU--parents, prospective students, visitors to the university. Without WVU, Morgantown is a ghost town.

Can't live with them, can't live without them.

So, in the snow storm last week, students were using Spruce Street--a steep hilly street--to snow board, come down in boats and any other way to sled in snow. About a thousand students were out, drinking beer and having fun and stopping the snow plows from coming on Spruce street. Sheriff deputies, Morgantown police and campus police tried to break it up but got pelted by beer cans and rocks and snowballs (of course!).

Then it got ugly--pepper spray and smoke bombs finally cleared the students and got Spruce Street plowed. No injures. No arrests. But just a reminder that "the more things change....."

In Morgantown, at any rate.

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.