Why is it that when I hear the words de-stress do I automatically feel annoyed? Maybe it’s because I’ve heard and seen this hyphenated word spoken and written so many times in college that it’s beginning to feel like a space filler. People just need things to talk about, and the truth is we as college students know we have stress and we know the majority of the coping mechanisms we use to deal with are unhealthy. Reading a book, taking a walk, petting a dog, I’ve seen the lists. I’ve been to the seminars. It’s the same thing different hippy, and no one is listening.
So what do we do to get people serious about stress? We need to make stress relief available and inviting. Puppies are a great example. Having a dog around to pet in the library is great. It’s a distraction from the crushing expectations of college. As for everyday life, I think we should go full Google. Make the spaces we use to relax, actually relaxing and fun. We should have space for silent serious study, but also space where you can run and be an idiot. I personally think the top floor of the Union would be a great place for soft music and mildly entertaining activities.
The 24-hour quiet hours run contrary to my beliefs. When I lived in the dorms, getting told to turn down my music every five seconds was not relaxing. It did not make my stress go down. It only made me want to move. The best thing the dorms could do is what they already do, bring people together and create friendships. I could not have gotten through freshmen year without my loud and crazy friends.1
The university does not sanction some forms of stress relief. You can’t drink or smoke on campus. I think this is the right call. There is no reason to be swigging vodka or smoking Camel Crushes between classes. These activities should be done outside the realm of learning and working. I know some private schools allow smoking on campus. This is dumb. Allowing tobacco on campus is like giving the dog a bone. College students are the perfect target for big tobacco, and I think institutions like North Dakota State should be in the business of helping not hurting students’ futures.
There is one thing I haven’t mentioned: sex. People have it; college students have it. Sex is stress in reverse, and people should have it, consensually and safely. This is really not a campus issue. Society as a whole needs to change their views on the subject of sex. Groups like the Healthy Herd Champions have done fine work to help people to find their own private mojo.
NDSU gets a B for stress relief from me. No one bothers you, and people are there to help out. I understand that NDSU students have a reputation for drinking the pain away, but I feel like binging is more of a regional culture than the fault of the university itself.