The issue:A disconnect has existed between the city of Brookings and South Dakota State University for almost as long as the university has existed.
Our view:Brunner’s appointment to Brookings City Council is good for SDSU students, but more students need to follow his lead in order to close the rift between the community and the university.
The city of Brookings thinks it’s a small town, and evidence of this collective belief is scattered throughout town. Whether it’s having only one restaurant open 24-hours-and even then, 24-hours applies to weekends only-or the over-inflated prices on housing that’s hard to find, the city of Brookings seems to have a hard time accepting the fact that it’s a college town, let alone the home of the biggest university in the state of South Dakota. The hesitation to accept the school as part of the community dates back to when South Dakota was in its first days; the city of Brookings fought hard for the prison, but got stuck with the state university.
On August 28, Ryan Brunner, an SDSU graduate student, was sworn in as a member of the Brookings City Council. Usually, swearing a person in to city government isn’t a big deal, but Brunner’s appointment to the governing body was huge for over 11,000 people. Brunner is the first SDSU student to ever become a member of Brookings City Council. With his new position of power, Brunner can begin to close the chasm between a city and school by speaking for an entire student body that had previously been ignored when the council made decisions.
But Brunner is just the beginning to a long process that will take the continual effort of students to bridge the gap. It took 126 years for an SDSU student to get on the city council, and we need to change that.
SDSU students need to take the initiative to get involved with all aspects of life in Brookings in order to change the long-standing mindset. Students do not need to become politicians to change things-they can attend local churches, volunteer in the community, live in Brookings during the summer-all of these things can help SDSU become less of an appendage and more of a necessary organ of the town.
The city of Brookings needs to realize that by accepting SDSU students as members of the community, the city as a whole can benefit in a big way. When students get involved, they tend to stick around. They’ll stay during weekends, during summers, and if treated as a respected member of the Brookings community, they’re more likely to stick around after graduation. With all these people making Brookings their home, the economy can only boom, and that’s good for everyone.