From Greencastle to DePauw: The life of a hometown student

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First-year and Putnam County resident Jerica Bean
PHOTO COURTESY OF JERICA BEAN

While it is nice to have home-cooked meals close by, local students at DePauw find themselves caught in the middle of the tension between Greencastle residents and DePauw University students.

Annalysse Mason, a sophomore with a double major in Sociology and Asian studies, has lived in Greencastle her whole life. As the daughter of two DePauw graduates, her decision to attend DePauw was highly influenced by her parents. Despite being a Greencastle native, Mason found herself still very unfamiliar with DePauw’s campus.

“[Going to college in your hometown] is basically like going to college normally, but you just live a lot closer and you know the street names better,” said Mason, who usually only goes home once a month. But, shocker, on the first day I had to Google how to get to East College from my dorm. DePauw is part of the town but you really only go here if you have a reason too…I had never knew that South Quad existed before I came here.”

Lucas Eckrich, a first-year who intends to double-major in Political Science and History, has lived his entire life in Putnam County. His mother, Maria Luque, is a Spanish professor DePauw. Because of this, Eckrich has been exposed to the unversity since an early age.

“Going to college in my hometown…it’s different,” said Eckrich, whose house is approximately three minutes from South Quad. “It was like I was an outsider looking in and now it is a totally different experience

First-year Lucas Ekrich (right) with his band in Putnam County.
PHOTO COURTESY OF LUCAS EKRICH

First-year Jerica Bean lives about fifteen minutes away from campus and never thought she would have gone to a school so close to her. Bean discovered that there are many advantages and disadvantage to staying in her hometown for higher education.

“Since you really know the town, you get to help your friends figure it out, but it can get annoying when you see everyone you knew in high school at Walmart,” Bean said.

The topic of relations between Greencastle residents and DePauw students has often been debated on campus. The noticeable divide is very prevalent within Putnam County and there have been several efforts to ease tensions.

“There is definitely a rift between how they feel towards DePauw. A lot of Greencastle people don’t like DePauw and I think that they feel like DePauw is intruding on the town…I guess that they feel like it is just two different communities that don’t want to interact…some people want to change that but most want to keep it that way,” Eckrich said.

The term “townie” is often times heard around campus, which is a negative way to refer to the people who live in the town of Greencastle. This term has a variety of different meanings but the negativity contributes to the divide between the town and the university.

“It meant something totally different when I was in high school; it was kind of a synonym for ‘deadbeat,’ like referring to someone who went to high school here but never left,” said Mason, who believes that the term needs to be put to rest. “Now in college, it means someone who is from here, so I find I derogatory.”

In hopes of restoring the relationship between Greencastle and DePauw, local students have thought of ways to combat the divide.

“Maybe if DePauw students could remain open minded about the stereotype targeted against Greencastle residents [relations would improve],” said Mason. “Greencastle residents do a lot for our university, which needs to be respected. Most of the staff and professors live in Greencastle and keep our university running. When you call people a townie, you could literally be referring to anyone.”