TCU has room to improve, students to do it

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    The senior reflection articles are always so tear-filled that it’s a little revolting. I’d be ashamed of myself if I had the chance to say something and never stood up and pointed at the elephant in the room and instead nodded complacently at the ever-shifting flower beds. I may be graduating, but I’m not leaving peacefully. I’ve got a few bones to pick.

    TCU isn’t perfect. I say that in the most respectful and honest way possible. If I were to meet someone who said he or she absolutely adored everything about TCU, I would call that person ignorant and a waste of space. The rooms are nice, but the housing system has always been a headache. The library is way too small for the growing student body, and engaging activities seem to center around freshmen. Once they pass the line to be upperclassmen, all interest seems to dissipate.

    But I like that TCU isn’t perfect, because it gives current and future students the opportunity to improve it, an opportunity to put hard work into something of which you may not reap immediate reward. I also like that TCU is growing in diversity.

    It’s strange to think that the only people left on campus who know what The Main was are all leaving in a few weeks. It wasn’t even named The Main; that’s just what we called it because it was the heart of campus. There were student activism groups, posters, events, Student Government Association and all sorts of functions that took place in the heart of campus. The Brown-Lupton University Union is gorgeous, but it lacks that same amount of campus-centered activism, of thriving student participation and drive. But I like that TCU keeps messing up. We get the chance to fix it.

    With four years under my belt in Fort Worth, I would say I’ve had a lot to think about.

    In about a year, I could be in Afghanistan. Four years definitely seem a lot shorter when you know your hardest times are still ahead. But I can only think so much about the future before I’m drawn to thinking about how well the past has prepared me for that future. TCU had a starring role in my development, and I can’t think of my future without thinking about Army ROTC.

    I think about the early morning wakeups at 6 a.m. for Physical Training at Frog Field, or to most TCU students, that grassy area between the Mary Wright Admission Center and the Bellaire Condos. There’s nothing like waking up the birds by stomping through the morning dew and reaching muscle failure before your roommates have even reached for the snooze button.

    I think about my freshman and sophomore years, climbing up the five-meter high dive in my full combat equipment. A senior cadet handed me a fake M16, put a blindfold over my eyes, spun me in circles and directed me to jump off while sounding off — “Horned Frogs lead the way!” I jumped, but I sounded off with something more like — “Women lead the way!”

    I think about how I looked up directions to the ROTC lab my freshman year. I was told to go to Bobo Park. According to Google Maps, Google and even longtime locals, Bobo Park doesn’t exist. I ran to lab the first day head to toe in uniform with a rucksack packed to standard on my back after someone kindly informed me it was down University Drive near the Log Cabin Village.

    I think about how I tried to explain to professors that I was doing training on some weekends with ROTC, and some would give the understanding nod and give me a sooner or later due date for my assignments. Others would tell me my assignments were still due on the date assigned. I tried to figure all of this out when I realized I had no Internet, no access to a phone or a computer or any way to contact them. I settled for turning in assignments early from then on.

    I think about cadre and cadets who have moved in and out of the program, who left their marks both in the classroom and by now on the battlefield. I hope I can meet their standards as I join their ranks and cross the stage into leadership.

    TCU’s mission statement correlates perfectly with what I hope to achieve, but I’ll add a twist to it: to educate and to train soldiers to think and act as ethical leaders and responsible citizens within the U.S. Army and the global community — and to fight till hell freezes over.

    Allison Erickson is a senior news-editorial journalism major from San Antonio.