For some of us, life at the U is better than it could ever be at most of the other Utah institutions of higher learning. The U may or may not be mostly run by social conservatives in suits, but aside from a few glitches like the School of Business and LDSSA, it doesn’t necessarily breed them. U campus culture is a welcome alternative to us Utah students who aren’t really interested in living or perpetuating the suppressive status quo in the state, and it’s something worth celebrating.

FEATURE OPINION: VAPING MAY BE A HEALTHY ALTERNATIVE TO FOR SMOKERS 

Beloved rock ‘n’ roll professor John Costa discussed how some of the U’s political currents are historically connected with Salt Lake’s psychedelic scene in the late 1960s in his article for the September 2011 issue of Utah Boomers Magazine. Costa notes that the main factor in the genesis of scene hangouts for heads was proximity to the U. Reservoir Park, the Aves, and 9th and 9th have seen their share of psychedelia: “The universities were the hotbed of [counter-cultural] change and the University of Utah was no exception,” Costa wrote. Hence the plethora of Tibetan-prayer-flag Aves/Sugar House houses and the Grateful Dead poster at The Pie.

Of course, you don’t have to look backwards to appreciate that the U isn’t a monoculture. We have gender neutral restroom options, our own Pride Week and classes with topical titles like “Mormonism and Gender.” We don’t hide the fact that a bunch of us are dirtbags: Not only do we have two ski clubs on campus, helping underclassmen miss exams on powder days, you can take a telemark skiing course. If you’re reading this and don’t appreciate how that ties into the General Plan of Liberal Subversion, you can rely on the fact that we have caffeinated sodas in our vending machines to get your gears a-grindin’.

All joking aside, our administration does deserve some credit for keeping things in the realm of the progressive on campus. We have some kick-ass, open-minded course offerings scattered throughout our plug-’n-chug degree programs. We have a student newspaper that doesn’t censor words like “kick-ass.” Our last president even worked to try and thwart open-carry legislation to keep guns off campus, pre-empting one of the central issues in the Sarkeesian/USU disaster by three whole years.

In a place as full of political corruption and zealous ethical bankruptcy as Utah, keeping things somewhat liberal and diverse is no little feat. Positive change doesn’t happen in an intellectual vacuum — in this state, independent intention and diversity are crucially needed.

So, to anyone who challenges the bench with a fixie; to those with rainbow pins on every inch of their rainbow backpack; to the snowbro in the rasta beanie checking Brighton’s snowfall stats in class; to those who take a detour from their TRAX commute to bother Ken Sanders for a poetry reading; to the kid whose hair makes it look like he’s trying to be Matthew Lillard’s character in SLC Punk! — thanks for making the U somewhere worth being. Utah needs your individualism and the challenge it poses to its mainstream groupthink.

Just make sure that last call at X-Wife’s is never an excuse to miss lab, you homegrown rebel, you.

letters@chronicle.utah.edu

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