By George Culver ’12
The Parkland community is home to some of the most brilliant individuals on the planet. From the local teacher seeking to push students toward success, to the barista eager to serve the morning commuter with a heartening smile; Tacoma is full of uplifting energy. Mighty enough to motivate an intercity youth into pursuing his dreams, the Tacoma essence has yet to pierce through the dome shielding Pacific Lutheran University.
Aiding in the disconnection between Tacoma and PLU are the deep rooted stereotypes that students often have toward the city and its residents. Courtney Akinniyi, a native of the Parkland area, is finishing up her senior year at PLU. Throughout her experience; she has witnessed firsthand the stereotyping of Tacoma from her peers and even faculty members.
“I remember a course which my professor advised the class to watch out for Tacoma youth. She had warned us to lock our vehicles at all time because this was a sketchy area. The class then started to make comments about “PY” (Parkland Youth). It was a frustrating experience” says Akinniyi.
These negative vibes ultimately hinder students’ interaction and relationship with the Tacoma community. Little do they know, they are completely isolating themselves from indulging in an opportunity to embrace diversity. While these stereotypes play a massive role in the disconnection between school and city, PLU has aided in the disconnection by having an insufficient amount of resources for students to get involved within the community. From talking with students around campus, It seems that students have a lack of knowledge about Tacoma. Tyler Ball is a second year who has grown frustrated with the disconnection
“I honestly do not know anything really about the Tacoma area. I have been here 2 years now and I have not really gotten an opportunity to explore Parkland. I don’t think that PLU does a good job in advertising places where students can go and actually have fun off campus” says Ball
A major factor contributing to this disconnection are the transportation methods offered by PLU. Many students, especially those living on campus, do not have access to vehicles. Although there is an option for students to get a reduced rate bus pass, this pass in only offered to commuter students. Taken from the PLU website, the following guidelines must be met in order for a student to obtain a reduced rate bus pass
- Be a full-time commuter student.
- Travel by transit to PLU three or more days per week to work or attend classes.
- Live outside of specific boundaries roughly described by the following: North is 112th St; East is Pacific Ave; South is Tule Lake Rd; West is Spanaway Loop Rd.
- Approval by Student Services. See the application form for details.
This reduced cost bus pass would definitely encourage students to explore the Tacoma area more if it were offered to every student on campus.
Another limited resource that PLU currently offers students in means of transportation is the newly introduced Zip Cars. These cars are rental vehicles that students who are of age and have their driver license are able rent to hourly or daily. Although this is a great resource for students, the problem is that there are only two Zip Cars available. Two rental vehicles at a college the size of PLU is not efficient.
This disconnection between school and city definitely hinders students potential experience while living here in Tacoma. For this to be resolved, PLU needs to offer more on campus resources that will encourage them to have an experience off campus.