The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Cast the First Stone

Whiff. Ok, I got the speed. He’s not that fast. Not fast at all.

Whiff. Ok, I’ll get it next time.

Whiff. Damn it. Don’t cry. Please don’t cry

The pitcher was not throwing especially hard, maybe about 30 miles per hour. He did not have a curve or a sinker and his motion was not particularly hard to pick up.

I was the one who was striking out. I was the one who stunk. When I was 9 years old I wasn’t worth the cheap polyester uniform that I was wearing.

Strangely enough, my batting average was higher than my self-esteem. After two more horrible seasons, I had enough. I couldn’t do it. I certainly would never be able to.

“Play one more season,” my father told me, “you’re starting to get bigger maybe you’ll do a little bit better.”

It wasn’t exactly a Knute Rockne halftime speech, where I was looking to win one for the Gipper, but it worked.

Even though I was tired of looking like a fool, it must have been the allure of finally getting that big hit, finally chugging around third base, sliding into home plate and looking up through the dust to see the umpire signal that I was safe.

I had seen too many baseball movies, heard my grandfather tell too many stories about Joe DiMaggio, and wanted too badly to share in all that.

Even if it was just a little.

Strangely enough, only a week into practice, my new coach told me to tuck my chin into my left shoulder and to watch the delivery of the ball all the way from the pitcher’s hand.

Apparently I had been pulling my head out as I swung, looking at the sky instead of at the ball.

With this new technique I started mashing the ball. My confidence started to grow, and I was not a mediocre hitter any longer.

Looking back at this episode in my life I now realize that the problem was not that I was striking out. It was that I had accepted my mediocrity.

Like a disease, it had debilitating effects on every aspect of my life. If I were not pushed I would have been left floundering in self-pity.

As I witnessed firsthand, mediocrity permeates and festers. It never strives for excellence and instead simply looks to pass, like a student searching for an easy class simply for an A.

As students of St. John’s we cannot allow this culture of mediocrity and an all-consuming apathy to fester on our campus. Recent developments at St. John’s have certainly been encouraging.

Before classes started students were notified via St. John’s Central that classes would no longer be held in the trailers. Students who pay thousands of dollars to attend this private university will no longer be forced to study in wooden trailers.

In addition, the last Torch issue of the fall semester highlighted the coming improvements to campus facilities, complete with relocation of offices and several renovation projects.

The University Center, which was declared by Donald Scheiber, then Director of Campus Activities, as being “too small for students needs” a week before it opened in 1972, will receive a facelift in the coming months, according to James Pellow, St. John’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

These positives must filter into other areas of our campus, most notably our school spirit at our athletic events and our student representation within student government.

This past weekend saw the men’s and women’s basketball teams win monumental contests at Madison Square Garden, the men against a then undefeated team in Pittsburgh and the women against Big East powerhouse Villanova.

What was a solid turnout for the men dwindled into what became a pathetic ghost town for the women’s team, as they bettered their record to 15-3 and received growing consideration for a Top 25 ranking. (For reason’s why this is a near atrocity please read Joseph Staszewki’s column on page 24.)

Speaking of poor turnouts.

Student Government Inc. has failed to meet quorum at least four times in their general body meetings. For those who do not understand what this means, simply know that nothing can be voted upon and therefore acted upon by SGI without a certain number of elected members being present.

In addition, SGI has failed to sufficiently attract student voters in what has become a yearly exercise in apathy.

In fact, 856 students voted in 2004 but only 428 came out in 2005. That’s only 2.8 percent of the undergraduate population.

That’s worse than mediocre.

That’s pathetic.

It is exactly this that we must avoid as if it were the plague. Because in an academic setting such as a university, it is the plague.

Maybe we can take a hint from our northern neighbor, Niagara University, who recently received $5 million from an alumni who stated that “he would not be where he is today without the values and ethics that were built into his education at Niagara.” The gift is the largest single donation in the private Catholic university’s 149-year history.

Niagara, a Vincentian school like St. John’s, plans to use the gift toward a construction of a $19.4 million academic complex.

Sounds like a good idea since becoming smarter is always a good way to battle mediocrity.

For St. John’s and its students I offer the following advice. Learn the lesson that I did.

Listen to those who push you on when you find yourself settling, and never take your eye off the ball.

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