Over the past five years in San Luis Obispo, I have come to realize and finally accept one sad fact: Quite a few of the “full time” residents in town don’t like college students. We’re loud, we drink, and we drive too fast. At first I was astonished at how belittled I was, but I have slowly grown accustomed to feeling constantly unwelcome in “your” community.
Recently, two instances occurred that can’t be overlooked. Some friends and I attended the Wild and Scenic film festival, a phenomenally done compilation of short films meant to raise environmental awareness. At one point, we were asked, “Is this for a class or are you actually interested?” To be honest, it is a fair question, seeing as we are students. But no, this wasn’t for a class, and yes, we are extremely interested in saving what is left of the planet that older generations haven’t had a chance to destroy. We care about the environment, and we’re the ones who are going to make a difference.
The second occurrence of denigration happened downtown at a restaurant busy with the lunch hour crowd. My friend hadn’t eaten all day, was dehydrated, and had low blood sugar. While we were in line, he started swaying, turned ashen gray, and nearly passed out. We were immediately approached by a woman accusing him of being drunk and having alcohol poisoning. It was 1 o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday; he wasn’t drunk. However, because we are twentysomethings, we must be drunk all the time, right? Wrong.
We took my friend outside to sit down. As we were waiting for the car to come and take him to the hospital, the manager told us we had to get him off the premises because of complaints from other patrons. He nearly passed out, and we were to move him away from other people? If it had been anyone else, perhaps an older person, I doubt people would have thought they were drunk and been asked to leave.
Wake up, San Luis Obispo: We are your future whether you like it or not; please, please stop stereotyping us all.