Green Day says it best, "Give me something to do to kill some time." Here on campus, for the student who is far from family, friends and home in general, weekends aren't always so friendly.
Let's just say you're a student who doesn't have a lot of cash. What to do then? Well, you could go for something to eat, but if you don't have dining dollars and PCB has already closed ... what next? Simple, you can go to the TRECS and work out. Unfortunately, that whole not having enough money or dining dollars comes into play once again when you've passed out probably from that empty stomach you have.
Another scenario is that you are a student who has a little cash but no transportation. Where to go? You could go to the movies downtown, too bad it's less than convenient, especially on a rainy day. The movie discount that students receive is nice, but sometimes it's not enough. Buying a ticket, popcorn and maybe a drink, could really bite into a student's budget. Then there is the student that has no cash or car. Now what? Well easy, you could go to the library, sounds fun ... right? You could go to PCB, but the doors are closed and no one is there but you, unless you want Subway or Chick-fil-A again (assuming you have dining dollars left). You could walk to go shopping, see a movie or go to eat, but uh oh you have no money and those pesky people at the store, theater and restaurant actually want you to pay them. The final option is to just stay locked up in your dorm room playing video games or sleeping.
OK, all joking aside. Yes, these may be some of the worst-case scenarios, but it is still a crucial aspect of student life for UT to examine. Simply put, student retention and helping students have the best possible experience at university is impossible, if the students are worn out, bored or feel stranded. Sure, UT has a few things open on campus, but most of the weekend activities for students are left to partying, hoping that some organization is hosting an event or simply sitting around doing nothing; simple as that. Not even the best student wants to spend most of their weekend in the library, nor do the best athletes want to spend their whole weekend in the gym.
In my opinion, UT should increase the amount of free and easily accessible weekend activities for students. The UC Down Under is nice enough — too bad it's only open for limited hours during the weekend, so if you do have a part time job, you'll maybe be able to get in 15 minutes of bowling before it closes. Occasionally you will come across free musical performances or the occasional movie showing, but these events should be commonplace. At the beginning of the academic year there was also the "Target Night Out," where the university had buses available, so students could easily leave campus. Events like this, even just once a month, could give students that home-away-from-home feel they really need, while helping them enjoy all that both Knoxville and UT has to offer and in turn will keep the morale of the student body high.
— Samantha Warchol is a sophomore in psychology. She can be reached at email@example.com.