Retirement community vs. the college life

Patricia Dillon, Managing Editor

If you click on the “Retire in Commerce Texas” tab on the website, you’ll be directed to an exagerrated  idea of what the small town of Commerce, Texas is. The city is advertising itself as a perfect place for retirement when the majority of the population, nine months out of the year, is comprised of college students.

“If you are looking to retire in a location that offers you fun and convenient opportunities at an affordable cost, consider Commerce, Texas,” the website states. “In the university community of Commerce, you gain access to a wide variety of cultural activities in the areas of arts, sporting events, music, theatre and much more. Historical sites and museums are located in every direction. Festivals and events are hosted throughout the year in nearly every nearby community.”

Without the Texas A&M University-Commerce, much of what the website is advertising would not exist. Most of the “cultural activites” occur on campus, such as the plays put on by the theatre depatment and the Pow Wow that the university hosted back in October. Many of the festivals in Commerce, too, would not exist or at least have as large of an attendance without students who participate as vendors or contribute their time as volunteers.

The main problem is that there is a disconnect between the city and the university. During the week the city is full of students going to classes and the few restaurants that exist, but on the weekends there is nothing to keep the students in town. Many of them return home or go to other cities where there are more activites than what Commerce provides, virtually leaving Commerce a ghost town.

Based on this, let me offer a scenario. If the university were  not located in Commerce, the population would drastically decrease. Restaurants and small shops would slowly run out of business because the community did not have enough customers to supply the money for the upkeep. Wal-Mart might even close down, leaving Commerrce as nothing more than a small rural counrty town. People would have to drive to Greenville or elsewhere for their major grocery shopping and other necessities. Have you ever heard of Bogata, Texas? Most likely not unless you’re from that particular area. Commerce would fall into that same boat as Bogata without the university and its students keeping it alive.

The city needs to wake up and realize that it is a college town, not a place for retirement. However, it is not entirely the city’s fault. If students want more restaurants and shops, a movie theatre or a skating park, more places to hang out and things to do, then they need to become proactive. Students need to request that whatever items and projects they want the city of Commerce to  undertake be put on the ballot during voting season. Then go vote! Thousands of students attend Texas A&M University-Commerce. If they want to see the city change, they need to go out and be the change.