Q&A - November 8, 2015

It is true, I could have taken the same funds and built a brand new dormitory building to house a similar number of OSUIT students on campus, but that would never impact this community as much as purchasing historic buildings in downtown Okmulgee and refurbishing them into loft apartments for students.

A new dormitory on campus would never have encouraged the private purchase or renovation of a single downtown property and would not have prompted any investments in new shops, restaurants, or businesses anywhere in this community.

As the next question reflects, some are still questioning the benefits that students will bring to downtown Okmulgee. I hope my response will ease some of your concerns.

Q: How is moving a bunch of college students downtown going to help Okmulgee? Won’t they just cause problems downtown?

I suppose it is common for one generation to rebuff another. Historically, young people from every generation seem to be an easy target for disparaging comments and denigrating accusations. But the generalized “bad rap” of the new generation is seldom deserved and particularly so in the case of Millennials.

Say what you want about the Millennial Generation, but I will tell you that this is a group of young adults with many admirable qualities. This is a generation that wants to make a difference in the world. They care about friends, family, and community. They are more technologically savvy than any generation before them and envision the world in spectacular ways that you and I have never considered. Millennials want to save the planet. They want to improve the lives of all people. They are not wasteful with resources. They recycle when they can and embrace the idea of repurposing something old in order to give it new life. Millennials have a lot to share and much they can teach the rest of us.

I welcome Millennials to OSUIT with anticipation of the leaders and innovators they will soon become. These are not ruffians or rabble-rousers. OSUIT students, as a whole, are very serious-minded and respectful of authority. They did not choose to come to OSUIT because they were looking for a party school atmosphere. These are hardworking young men and women who chose this college because they wanted to improve their skills and train for a career. These young adults will soon enter the workforce and become contributing members of society and we should afford them the respect they are due.

Placing large numbers of these industrious students in downtown loft apartments will not destroy a community, but rather build a community. OSUIT students are one of this town’s strongest assets. Many of them view Okmulgee as their home away from home and want to contribute to it. They will bring life and laughter to forgotten buildings, energy and vitality to a declining town center, and commerce will follow them.

OSUIT students have benefitted from the sustenance and shelter of Okmulgee for many years. They will now have an opportunity to repay this town for its kindness and make a true difference at a time when Okmulgee needs them the most. Please continue to send your questions to osuit-president@okstate.edu.