Tuesday, August 18, 2009

18 AUG 09: Country Club of Columbus State

So here it is -- the official start of autumn in metro Columbus. Several area colleges began the fall semester Monday, a week or two after the primary and secondary schools began a new term. Isn't it nice that the weather cooled off to cooperate - so you probably won't have to turn on the air conditioner again until next May?

Enrollment is expected to be up at public colleges across Georgia, including Columbus State. The weekend news noted enrollment already is sharply higher at technical colleges, especially as older students seek retraining. So when you hear about that study of binge drinking comparing adults age 50-64 with college students, remember - those adults might BE college students.

Columbus State University doesn't want to encourage drunkenness, of course - so it's doing other things to celebrate the start of fall classes. The "Cougar Kickoff" actually began last Thursday with a luau, and continued Monday night with a roller skating session. This is what happens when your college is dreaming only of "club" football....

The schedule for Cougar Kickoff has a different event every day, and will conclude with a Friday afternoon beach party at Callaway Gardens. There's so much going on, you wonder if the professors have been told not to assign any readings or lab work until next week.

In addition to that, the Davidson Student Center at C.S.U. soon will have a "Cougar Food Court" - and the centerpiece will be a Popeyes restaurant. There's nothing better for encouraging that "freshman 15" weight gain than fried chicken and battered shrimp.

(To be fair: the new Cougar Food Court also will offer a sushi restaurant -- so students can get some exercise during lunch, chasing down fish that want to squirm away.)

The addition of Popeyes puts a second "brand name" inside Columbus State University dining. It joins Einstein Brothers Bagels -- which has no off-campus locations in Columbus, but has a "satellite" bagel stand at the C.S.U. library. As if it's OK to get apple-cinnamon "shmear" all over a library book....

You could blame the appearance of more name brands at C.S.U. on the business school background of President Timothy Mescon. But it's really been a trend on college campuses for years. Georgia Tech's food court at the Student Center includes a Burger King and a Chick-fil-A. So much for college idealists fighting the evils of big bad corporations.

Call me as crusty as a bagel if you wish -- but all these campus-run parties and restaurant "branding" make me a little jealous. It's now (shudder) 30 years since my senior year of college, and we never had this stuff. Residence halls had to organize their own events during what we called "country club week." And we had to do it before classes started -- with the only "distractions" being book-buying and enrollment.

And we certainly did NOT have national restaurant chains serving food at my college's student union. For one thing, activist students would have marched in protest if the chains did any business in South Africa....

(There actually was one advantage to not having big-name fast food on the college campus. It was easier to invite women out for dinner dates at nicer restaurants.)

By the way, Auburn University is holding its own touchy-feely "back to college" events today. A Vice President is handing out free breakfasts during the morning, while Dr. Jay Gogue and his wife host "Popsicles with the President" during the afternoon. Aw, c'mon - shouldn't there be a science professor there, to explain how fast they could melt?

Let's see what else made news, on a rainy Monday:

+ A trip down Victory Drive confirmed the bread store outside the Dolly Madison bakery no longer is selling gasoline. It often had the lowest price in Columbus, at what someone told me was one cent above wholesale. But now, the only item there which could give you gas is a big box of Twinkies.

+ The Muscogee County School Board gave final approval to three days of teacher furloughs. Superintendent Susan Andrews said there's NO indication the state plans to order more furloughs - or something even more drastic, like a reduction in the number of high school football games.

(The furlough vote overshadowed the last school board meeting before the September school sales tax question. If a fifth-grade chorus came forward to sing "You Can Vote However You Like," the late-night newscasts didn't show it.)

+ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Andrew Young will endorse Ken Hodges for Georgia Attorney General. The civil rights legend apparently agrees with Hodges, that racism was NOT involved in the Kenneth Walker case Hodges handled. Either that, or Young is in seclusion and has never met Edward DuBose.

+ Atlanta assailed Arizona 9-4, in a baseball game originally scheduled for May. The announced attendance at Turner Field was 23,668 - but a look at the highlights reminded me of an old Skip Caray line: "A lot of fans came disguised as empty seats."

(Can you believe it - a baseball game delayed by rain for three months? At least the Columbus Woodbats ended their season before the traditional August flooding started at Golden Park.)

+ Instant Message to Lumber Liquidators on Milgen Road: Did I hear what I thought I heard this past weekend? Someone at your business sounded like they had an opera turned up on the radio. There IS a difference between your place and Home Depot....

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