Some ancient philosopher said that love and hate are 2 sides of the same coin. That is what I think about each year at this time as the college kids return to their seasonal party grounds.
I am usually reminded of their return on Freshman move in day when I am stuck in traffic on Reservoir Street and get cut off at the light by a Lexus with Jersey plates. Another indicator is the growing amount of trash along the street at our office. Beer cans, pizza boxes and fast food bags appear each morning and we know classes have begun when the red plastic cups start sprouting in our yard. My anger usually peaks when we lose a cluster of mailboxes or I have to confront some punk to explain that I do not maintain the yard so his pitbull has a place to poop.
My anger doesn't last long as I soon realize that this migration will go on whether I like it or not and my personal suffering is a small price to pay for the benefits of JMU. There is a positive side to life with 19,000 extra residents and all of the other things that JMU brings to the community and it starts with economics. Besides a 395 million dollar budget to run the school, the financial impact from students, faculty and staff floats our local economy. They buy homes, rent apartments, shop in our stores and work alongside all of us in community service projects. Harrisonburg would be a mighty dull place were it not for the money and energy from JMU. Maybe the next time I get cut off by the Jersey Lexus, I will just smile.