Why I Love UNG In Dahlonega
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Politics and Activism

Why I Love UNG In Dahlonega

It's more than just a little college in a little mountain town.

Why I Love UNG In Dahlonega
Catie Blackwell

I graduated high school in 2013. Prior to graduation, I scored a 32 on the ACT, had a very competitive GPA, and was accepted to all six colleges I applied to, including "The MIT of the South:" Georgia Tech. I could have gone to any college I wanted (within reason; I'm not Harvard material), but I chose North Georgia College and State University, now the University of North Georgia. For the last nearly three years high school classmates, other friends, and acquaintances as well as the occasional family member have questioned why I would choose the seemingly small and insignificant UNG for my secondary education.

I've written two "Signs You Go To UNG in Dahlonega" articles in the past year, and while they were lighthearted and humorous, I thought I would dig a little bit deeper into the litany of reasons I've fallen in love with this mid-size public university in a sleepy gold rush town.

Campus Police is on top of crime (and professors in bushes).

Justin Gaines and his squad of bike-riding, Segway-rolling and Dodge Charger-driving boys (and girls) in blue are vigilant in making sure students and faculty are safe on campus. They patrol the campus 24/7 and are quick to respond to calls from students regarding everything from suspected crimes to smaller issues, like the time I left my laptop charger in the Health and Natural Science building and needed them to let me in on a Sunday morning.

When not disseminating timely notices or offering useful self-defense or first aid classes, Campus Police e-mails are also a source of entertainment. Who can forget the time Dr. Crook-Hill was in a bush wearing a Hawaiian shirt and Ronald Reagan mask and we swiftly received word that there was a suspicious individual lurking on campus (and then swiftly received an explanation and disrupted our 11 a.m. classes with our laughter)? And we all joined them in solidarity when we received last week's e-mail banning hoverboards. It was a thing of beauty.

The University of North Georgia's Dahlonega campus is one of the safest college campuses in the nation, and a lot of the credit goes to Campus PD.

The campus and surrounding area is beautiful.

There are so many beautiful places within walking distance or within a short drive from good ol' D-Town, from the Lake Zwerner Reservoir just past Walmart to everyone's favorite Lumpkin County view: Preachers Rock, part of the Blood Mountain Wilderness on the Appalachian Trail. The little town retains the charm of a small mountain city while still catering to the needs of the ever-growing student body and ever-present tourist population.

My professors truly care about me.

Most college faculty boasts an "open door policy," but professors at UNG really mean it. I have never felt unable to connect with a professor if I needed help, and I've had many an interesting conversation outside of class with professors. If you're in the Honors Program, the first professor who probably comes to mind when you think of a caring professor is Dr. Stephen Smith, for whom the hashtag, #AchieveForSteve was coined.

Last year, when I was doing preliminary research for my undergraduate thesis, I spent over an hour sitting in Dr. Austin Riede's office discussing the United States legal system and race relations. He's an English professor, and at the time, I was a nursing major. I wasn't taking one of his classes at the time, but he was willing to take time to converse with me.

Professors are also nearly always quick to respond to e-mails and phone calls, regardless of the ridiculous questions us students come up with, and I have always felt that my success as a student is their number one priority.

Greek life is unique in the best way.

Rumor has it that there's an old law on the books in Lumpkin County that decrees any house with more than five women inhabiting it to be a brothel, so, for this and other reasons (like lack of real estate) there are no fraternity or sorority houses, despite the college boasting active chapters of Alpha Gamma Delta, Delta Chi, Delta Zeta, Delta Phi Epsilon, Kappa Sigma, Pi Kappa Alpha, Pi Kappa Phi, Kappa Delta, Phi Mu, Sigma Kappa, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Sigma Nu (as well as the Sigma Omega local fraternity). Freshmen aren't allowed to join Greek organizations until they have twelve credit hours under their belts and formal sorority recruitment takes place over Martin Luther King weekend and ends with one of the best bid day traditions around--the new members running (and occasionally tripping) down the steep Drill Field hill into the arms of their new sisters. It's for sure a different beast, especially in comparison with bigger southern schools, but it's a wonderful experience for those involved.

We're one of six senior military colleges in the nation.

Since its founding as North Georgia Agricultural College in 1873, North Georgia joins ranks with the Citadel and Texas A&M as a senior military college, and its Corps of Cadets has produced some of the most successful military personnel and civilians in the state and nation (side note: North Georgia was the first SMC to allow females). Starting with Frog Week and ending at graduation (likely with a commissioning ceremony), Cadets put in tremendous effort outside of their schoolwork and extracurricular activities to become a disciplined and hard-working group who can be seen around campus in Army uniforms.

Cadets and civilian students alike are afforded most of the same privileges (though civilians aren't subject to "hair privileges" or "shower curtain privileges" and can stay out past midnight on weekdays), and the military presence on campus gives rise to some of the incredible traditions that makes UNG special, like the 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. cannon firings (with bugle calls Reveille and Retreat) and other bugle calls heard throughout the day.

Sacrifice has a face at UNG. In nearly every class and organization, there are Cadets (often sitting in the front row) who are largely members of the United States Army. These are the men and women who, in times of war, will be sent to defend freedom for the rest of us and they are more than just a patriotic sentiment: they are my friends and classmates.

I am more than extra income.

This is a big one.

Last year, a student at Kennesaw State University had campus security called on him for waiting on his advisor, which apparently at KSU is a form of harassment.

A couple years back, and recently publicized in The Hunting Ground, a Florida State Student was raped by star football player Jameis Winston, and he was treated more as a victim than she was because of the huge role football plays in the success of the University.

At bigger schools, students have difficulty communicating with faculty and staff and struggle to receive justice for crimes against them because of the impersonal nature of their school and the focus on making money, promoting extracurriculars, or just for the sake of "putting on a pretty face" for the purposes of upping enrollment.

This is nowhere near the case at UNG. At North Georgia, I matter. My successes as an individual are recognized, my struggles are often easily mitigated and I am important.

The people make it what it is.

There is a place for everyone from every walk of life at the University of North Georgia, and this is pretty evident by a quick skim of OrgSync. Students have created and maintained clubs for nearly every interest and fancy. People are friendly here, which is obvious by just getting on an elevator in one of the Residence Halls. Elevator rides aren't awkward or uncomfortable here. Other students are nearly always ready with a smile and some small talk, which is not the case in many other schools (I first noticed this while riding the elevator in my brother's Midtown Atlanta high-rise apartment, which houses mostly students at Georgia Tech and Georgia State).

We don't harass each other and disrespect others with mindless protests. The last time a man with a picket sign showed up on campus, it said, "The Lord hates workers of inequity" and the student body condemned him via social media.

Others have argued that the school is not diverse enough, and I am not prepared to argue or corroborate that point, but I will say that we do all share something-- common decency. Students, faculty and even the local "Nuggets" are kind, understanding, sympathetic and always willing to reach out to help or sit down to chat.

I could go on. I could talk about the friendly ladies of the chow hall, the talented division two sports teams, or even our killer Snapchat geofilters, but that's a story for you to uncover on your own.

If you're a student at UNG, take the time to be thankful for the school you attend.

If you're an alumni of North Georgia (UNG, NGCSU, or NGC), thank you for helping to shape this college into what it is today.

If you're a professor or faculty member, thank you for making my college experience a good one.

If you're at another university, transfer.

If you're still in high school and thinking ahead to college, apply to UNG. You won't regret it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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