Harding has been a part of Searcy since 1933, and as an insider looking out, it seems like Searcy is not as infatuated with Harding as we would like to think.
Universities increase the economic state of many cities and towns, bringing thousands of potential customers to local businesses and providing hundreds or thousands of job opportunities. It seems like a slam dunk that schools — and therefore Harding — are absolute goods to the communities around them. Well, at least it seems so until you notice the Sonic workers frustrated during beauxings and queenings that someone ordered food and we can’t hear them call our names, or when Midnight Oil is so crowded from students trying to stay dry that none of the locals can get their coffee without tripping over backpacks.
But of course the benefit of Spring Sing is undeniable. Bringing in family and alumni bolsters the economy. At the same time, I know when I have to work Spring Sing weekend, or even Lectureship, as a cook and cashier I’m overwhelmed and just wishing people would take the hint that when the line is out the door, they should expect to be waiting a while. Not to mention that in the grand scheme of things, we might be able to afford more than the $2,000 prize money to non-profits if we cared more about the community than putting on a bright show. Or why wait for Spring Sing for a club to donate money — just ask your club to fundraise.
But then I think of all the service that Harding helps with around the community. When our friends force us, we chomp at the bit to serve at the Rock House or Harding Place, and even though they could always use more help, it makes me sad to think of all the places in Searcy that Harding students neglect: Jacob’s place, Domestic Violence Prevention Program or Hope Restored — beyond the social work program sending interns and club members reluctantly trimming hedges to meet the requirements to be active in their social club.
If we cared about tithing, we would tithe. If we cared about service, we would serve. If we cared about being kind, we would stand by the door during a loud night at Sonic so the server wouldn’t have to walk around the tables shouting a name for five minutes hoping someone would take it.
I think it’s an easy fix, actually. Maybe we could give up watching Looney Tunes on Saturday Mornings to do the Student Association service project, or balance our three Wednesday night devotionals with going to buy food for the hungry people almost inevitably at the corner of Walmart. Sometimes, in the Harding bubble, it feels like the only notable thing in Searcy is Harding, but maybe that’s only true because we don’t take note of anything besides ourselves. Perhaps before acting like we are the pride of Searcy, we ought to contribute something to it that its community is proud of.