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Off-campus employment breaks down town-gown divide

By Margaret Burke
On March 12, 2013

  • Margaret Burke, Class of 2013. Sunny Strader / The DePauw

At DePauw, we frequently joke about the campus as a bubble from which students are shielded from reality.
Whether we're paying for our dinner at the Den with the Monopoly money on our Tiger cards or putting in work-study hours shelving books at Roy O., we rarely leave the confines of our beautiful school and get out in the real world. I'm one of those few students who bursts the confines of DePauw on a regular basis as an employee of Green Apple Frogurt.
An off-campus job is a rarity here, but the norm on other college campuses in larger towns like Bloomington. I grew up only twenty minutes from Bloomington, and I became accustomed to seeing Indiana University students working at nearly every restaurant and store I ever visited, including national chains and local businesses. My parents assured me they loved working during college because it forced them to manage their time effectively. Not to mention the perks of having some extra money.
When I got to DePauw, I realized that virtually no one worked off-campus. I found it weird at first, but later grew to accept it. With the workload associated with DePauw classes, I understood that many of my peers were too busy to juggle a job on top of that. Which is why even though my parents had always encouraged me to seek employment during college, I was hesitant to do so until this year when I applied for a job at Green Apple.
Working at Green Apple is a nice break from my busy DePauw life. But beyond being a cashier at Frogurt, I like to think of myself as a "DePauw diplomat." I know far too well that the relationship between Greencastle and DePauw leaves a lot to be desired. When I completed a Winter Term internship at a local dentist's office my junior year, the patients would tell me on a daily basis that I was "too nice and too quiet" to be a DePauw student and thus didn't embody the DePauw stereotype.
Greencastle has a lot to offer DePauw students, and vice versa. DePauw is a huge part of Greencastle's identity and I believe Greencastle needs to become a bigger part of DePauw's identity.
Perhaps if DePauw had more student "diplomats" like myself in the community, the relationship between DePauw and Greencastle would strengthen. Working alongside people who live outside the DePauw bubble helps put a face to the larger community that surrounds us. In a work environment, the camaraderie that's formed between employees can last long past the time that you clock out.
But students don't necessarily have to be employed off-campus to form these relationships. Any positive participation in the greater Greencastle community is helpful because we, as DePauw students, hold the power to bridge the town-gown divide.
I have had a great experience working off-campus and would encourage others do the same. Look at available jobs, even if it's just for a few hours a week. Others will undoubtedly find it fulfilling and worthwhile to not only get a break from campus life, but also to have a few extra dollars to spend on the weekend.

­- Burke is a senior from Nashville, Ind. majoring in education.  

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