A college students view

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Thought you might like to see a viewpoint we haven't heard to much from:

A College Student's View of Y2K By Matt Vaughn, a junior at East Carolina University majoring in psychology. He plans to attend graduate school "...if society doesn't collapse." He is a member of the Psi Chi national honor society and is the co-founder of the Students for a free Tibet of ECU.

College students who feel that their families should prepare for Y2K are in an awkward position. For the most part we are mentally and physically adults but we are still dependent on our parents financially. In order for college students to prepare for Y2K, we have to convince our parents that Y2K is serious enough to prepare for. My preparing for Y2K doesn't involve buying a year's worth of food or installing a wood stove at the cabin in the mountains. It involves trying to convince my parents to do these things. As most WRP readers know, convincing someone that Y2K is something to prepare for is no easy task.

I first found out about the Y2K problem early in November from a link on one of my favorite band's web-site. The link said: "the bug of all bugs, could this really happen?" Since my job at the school library allows me 15 hours a week to surf on the Internet I had plenty of time to research the issue.

After a month of reading just about every link on Gary North's page, nearly all of the back issues of the DC Y2K Weather Report and everything on Rick Cowles web page, I came to some conclusions. It seemed to me that the y2k could very well be a disaster and that my family needed to prepare for possible outcomes associated with this disaster.

During this time my roommate named Bobby Gabriel, who is a computer science major, was also doing his own research. When I first told Bobby that I thought y2k could be a disaster he laughed. The next day he came home and said that he now was a "believer". After a full day of researching y2k on the net and talking to a man who is contracted to work on the mainframes at ECU, Bobby's reply to me was "it's worse than you thought."

Bobby and I continued to research y2k and every night we would discuss what we had found out. The night before we were to leave for Christmas break we talked about how we planned to tell our family about what we had learned from our hours of research. We both were sure that our families would be happy that we had found out about the problem before it was too late.

The responses Bobby and I received from our families over Christmas break were not at all what we expected. We learned over the break that y2k was, to say the least, a touchy subject. It was not the kind of topic to be discussed at the dinner table. My parents insisted that I not discuss it with my relatives at the family get-together in Chicago. They said that it would "spoil the fun". Bobby had similar experiences over the break. He said that his parents now refuse to hear anything about y2k and get very angry if he even brings up the topic.

After sending great amounts of information on y2k and many passionate letters expressing my concern, my parents still are not preparing. I have quickly found out that one can not make other people feel that they need to prepare. Coming to the conclusion that y2k is something to prepare for is strictly a personal decision. I also found that the more I talked about it and the more information I sent, the more my parents weren't willing to accept it. So I have given up trying to convince people, especially my parents, that y2k is serious because doing so is extremely counter productive.

I have been asked if the symptoms of Y2k denial are as prevalent in the college population as they are in the older population. The answer is yes. I have found that my peers are as reluctant to hear any negative information concerning Y2k as the older people I have talked to about the topic. Most of my peers have spent the last 3 to 4 years of their life in college studying and preparing for the "real world". They do not want to hear that they may have been studying for nothing. Bobby and I live in a house with 4 other college age kids that have completely opposite views on Y2k as we do. Y2k is such a taboo subject in our house that we are strongly suggested not to talk about it where our other roommates can hear. One of my roommates even complimented me on not talking about Y2k he said, "you've been real good lately about not talking about it". One would think that college age students would be more open minded to listen to negative views about Y2k but I have found through experience that this is not the case.

After months of research on Y2k I have come to the conclusion that Y2k could very well go Milne or Infomagic and I want to be prepared. Most people are under the impression that preparing for y2k is expensive, however this is far from the truth. I have figured that even with my limited "poor college student " budget that I can be relatively prepared if the worst happens. I have already ordered non-hybrid seeds and some 5-gallon storage containers. For my birthday in April, instead of asking for a new guitar I plan to ask for Y2k supplies from my family and this summer I plan to come home to work to save money for supplies. Even though my family doesn't feel that y2k is something that they need to prepare for, I do, so I am going to prepare to the best of my ability.

An aspect of preparation that I feel has been overlooked is entertainment. While talking to a member of my church about y2k preparations, I told him that one of my main concerns was being able to have something to play music on. He said that having music to listen to during TEOTWAWKI wasn't that big of a concern to him but my friends and I feel that having music is a big concern that ranks right up there with ammo and seeds. We are making copies of each other's tapes that we like and are planning to order solar powered battery chargers for our walk-mans. I suggest that a useful part of anyone's Y2k preparations is to obtain something to play music on, buy some Beatles, Mozart, Dylan or whatever you like. If you don't listen to music much, now would be as good a time as any to start. If it does go Milne or Infomagic the music will help drown out the sounds of your stomach.

Matt has written 3 essays on y2k, which can be found at http://michael.mcelwain.com

e-mail: mgv0415@hotmail.com

-- Jon Johnson (narnia4@usa.net), April 09, 1999


I recently bought a cassio key board that works on 6 AA batteries for 5 hours of playing. WE plan to use it during Y2K for entertainment. For inexpensive Y2K food, go to grain mills in your area. 50 LBS of cream of wheat and oatmeal is only $15 each! Good luck!

-- smitty (smitty@sandiego.com), April 09, 1999.


Enjoyed the post. Eerily reminiscent of my own experiences with y2k.

Whole-heartedly agree with the music tip. Experienced a five day power outage in Jan. 1997 and the silence was nerve rattling!

Got Kenny G, Earl Klugh, Jim Brickman

-- Carol (jdufrene@laci.net), April 09, 1999.

Wow. The thought of a little silence bothers people? We must have noise all the time? What a pathetic bunch we are.

A little perspective, guys. If we have food, shelter & security, a little silence isn't going to hurt us.

-- turn (that@thing.down), April 09, 1999.

turn -

Very much a matter of one's own "wiring". I tend to favor a fair amount of ambient noise myself, and have been told that I create it (humming, tapping, etc.) when it's absent. Others (my "Much Better Half", f'rinstance) prefer quiet, which is why I tend to work in a different part of the house than she does.

If someone's prepping, they are my ally. If they choose in invest some of their prep funds somewhat differently than I do, that's their choice. If things do go sideways for a time, they will be much less of a burden on their community than all those folks who are not prepping at all, and their preference for and investment in "noise" may in fact prove to be a blessing for others.

Just the $.02 of someone who would really miss listening to The Dave Matthews Band (and would probably end up humming "What Would You Say" over and over while gardening...)

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), April 09, 1999.

Ditto, Mac,

It's the little things, reading a good book by your Aladdin and listening to Under The Table and Dreaming by Dave Mathews. (My favorite is Ants Marching.) We'll all want some sense of normalcy.

-- Carol (jdufrene@laci.net), April 09, 1999.

Matt - I am sort of on the other end of the issue. I have college and high school aged children who have mixed reactions to my preparations. They accept that there may be problems and appreciate that I am taking care of it for them. They know to come home when they sense any changes that may herald impending problems. Each has their bug-out bag with rudimentary essentials upon which to build. However, there is a deep layer where the possibilities are really phsycologically disturbing to them. I also note this in your introduction.

I have experienced times in my life where the bottom completely dropped out of my world. Where all the comforting structural supports disintegrated and I was shoved alone into a free-fall of unknown and unfamiliar territory. The first time this happened, I was totally unprepared for the shock. But you discover that it is not the end of the world and you can choose to grow in response. (I will say faith can help maintain a sense of security and stability in times of drastic change.)

Two of my children are scheduled to graduate in 2000. One will register for the draft two days before the millennium. I am sensitive to the impact that thinking about y2k potentials must have on their brand new shiney dreams of their adult life.

Examining the potential is unsettling, and so much of youth is building intricate relationships and making giant leaps in learning, made possible through reliance on a continuum of the mundane rythms of life taken for granted. I was surprised at one of my children's reactions to things in a state of preparation and not yet put away. (Particularly in front of his friends.) That seemed to disturb him more than the possible impact of y2k. He sort of felt disoriented and displaced. We used humor to get over that and I am comfortable being joked about as the crazy person with Costco in their basement. Last week he smashed cans, but did it only on the condition that the refund money would not be used for y2k. (Humor releases tension so we can cope with uncomfortable emotions.)

Interestingly, I had the same problem with MY parents as you are having with yours. I explained what I was doing and why. They brushed it off and I didn't push. My Dad's a diabetic and I was worried about his insulin. I told them I was worried and that it would really help my peace of mind if I could get him a small battery operated refrig. The result was that they started reading more about the issue and decided that there were some preparations they could do.

You sound like a fine fellow with a head on your shoulders. All I suggest is that you not let the potential of y2k overwhelm and deflate your dreams. After all, dreams are what youth is about.

-- marsh (armstrng@sisqtel.net), April 10, 1999.

Eighteen myself. I'd be in first-year college if I hadn't decided to study Ivy League in the US instead. Going for class of 04. Hopefully the SAT reporting services will still be functional at that time.

Anyway, the first thought I had when realising how serious y2k could be was, "Oh, SHIT!" The second was, "I can get rich out of this!" (The idea that I might personally be in danger from it came to my shock a few months later.)

Your parents are preparing. Me, I have to prepare for all my family. Kind of a nuisance. A big one, actually. But hell, I can do it. Since I'm running a consultancy/agency (we hit the market April 20, end of the school easter break) for y2k preparations, it won't be so hard. (We do all the hard work for you. You say, "I want a year's food for ten plus backup if the power goes down and four hundred litres of petrol", I get it all for you, have it delivered and stored in your house, and add a 20% commission to the total bill.)


(and by the way, most college types DO tend to be heavily GI. They've got too much to lose, as you said.)

-- Leo (lchampion@ozemail.com.au), April 10, 1999.

Oops, I meant DGI, not GI. DGI or DWGI.

-- Leo (lchampion@ozemail.com.au), April 10, 1999.

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