Wednesday, August 28, 2013

RYS Flashback. 6 Years Ago Today.

We Fear It's Going to Be a Long Semester For This Longtime RYSer. Too Soon For Such Agony. Yet, We Relish the Chance to Listen In.

Despite the plethora of tuition-and-tax-dollar-sucking programs deigned to ease tomorrow’s leaders into the monolithic horror that is their first semester of college, a more economical and instructive orientation might begin with some of the following:
  1. This is a state university with well over 20,000 students. No, the grownups do not in fact all know each other, so don’t buttonhole me in the quad with your crumpled schedule and ask “Where do I find Mr. X?” High school is over. FOREVER. Live with it or get to the Student Counseling Center, pronto. It’s described in that batch of flyers that you tossed out.

  2. Your 11:00 am classroom was not created by celestial fiat just for you, but is, has been, and will be utilized by other students and their professors at other times. Do not wander into my course in said room at 10:30, stare open mouthed at the unfamiliar faces and cut me off in mid-lecture demanding to know what’s going on. There is a clock in the foyer—try looking at it.

  3. I don’t care if Thursday has been unofficially designated the new Kegger Night. We have class at 9:00 am Friday morning, drunk or sober. If incapacitated and absent, you’ll be marked as such and it will be reflected in your grade. If present and green in the face, do try to color-coordinate with your wardrobe as best you can (wearing the shirt you’ve already barfed on doesn’t suffice).

  4. You didn’t hear your name called on the roll for a reason: This is not your introductory Psych class. You’re in the wrong building. PULL YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR ASS.

  5. For such a media-savvy bunch, you all seem oddly out of your element when it comes to the campus e-mail system, which is painstakingly installed and maintained to expedite your routine. With this in mind, the syllabus is prepared and sent out to the entire class before day one. Few of you even bothered to open your account, let alone print out the “contract” for the course introduction.

  6. Guys: I agree that the texbooks are too expensive, but I cannot help you there. This also means that they are heavy, and that bookbag is thus more ungainly than you’re used to. If you must spin around and bellow greetings in public when you spy a member of your former clique, remember that other people (and their coffee) might be vulnerable to its mighty torque.

  7. University libraries are white-hot centers of research for motivated students and faculty, not flophouses for somnolent lazy asses nor study halls for gabfests masquerading as detention. The next one of you who disrupts my work by snoring, farting, wolf-whistling, or cell-phone ringing gets his teeth kicked in.

  8. Occasionally, we faculty feel the need to move A-V equipment from one building to another. Yes. Kindly step aside when we wheel one of our antiquated contraptions into your path instead of giving us the hairy eyeball, pushing us out of the way, or guffawing at the spectacle.

  9. The dappled trees surrounding the campus are indeed beautiful, just like in the catalogue photos. That’s why we call it “fall” semester.” Bathe, put on some long pants, jettison the open-toed shoes, and cover your midriff while you have a chance. Nature can be terribly unforgiving of summer fetishists in these parts.

  10. Finally, the next time you’re nodding off in your Intro to World History course and internally whining about why there’s so much more reading, problem-solving, lab hours, 8:00 am classes, and teachers spouting big words than you expected, pause long enough to consider the sentiments of a martyred world leader whom some of us took quite seriously when we heard his signature image of a torch being passed to a new generation: As per JFK’s instructions, many of us hoary academics still endeavor to make our respective contributions to the improvement of society—“not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” I for one am holding onto my torch for the time being.


  1. I've seen plenty of that sort of thing on my campus. Last semester, I had a student walk into the middle of my 50-student class asking if she had left a book behind. I asked the class if anyone could see a stray book on their desks, or on the floor, but no-one could.

    I told the student that it seemed like her book wasn't there, and she then asked if she could go into the classroom and look for it herself. I told her that no, I wasn't going to stop my class for that, and that she could wait outside for 15 minutes and come in to look at the end. She looked at me as if I had just dropped a baby on its head, and walked out.

    Re #10: I'm always emphasizing to my students that university is supposed to require effort, and the JFK “not because they are easy, but because they are hard" quote is good for helping to make that point. I also sometimes like to use this scene from A League of their Own.

  2. I've had more than enough of this. Whenever a student disrupts my class in this way, I ask the fool: WHY is your FIRST course of action to DISRUPT A CLASS? CAN YOU NOT SEE there are 50 other people here? WHY do you NOT KNOW that they PAID to be here, so that YOU ARE NOW RIPPING THEM OFF? GET OUT, NOW, before I call the CAMPUS POLICE. Honestly, if I were allowed to carry a firearm, I would draw and quite probably FIRE.

    But then, for a long time now, the PROFOUND stupidity of the modern student ASTONISHES me. It's not enough that most college students have the minds of middle schoolers. As many of the points in this post, and especially #4 show, if they did ANY job in the world, including working in a fast-food outlet, like they manage their educations, they'd be FIRED.

    Also: modern students are NOT media savvy, or tech savvy, in any sense. Try using ANY of this technology to get them to do ANYTHING related to a class, and you'll see them devolve into all-thumbs Luddites, EVERY time. Then, of course, it's YOUR responsibility to add media-consultant and tech-consultant to your already too-long list of necessary-but-not-sufficient components of your job. And naturally, you'll need to be on call 24/7/365...