January 10, 2003

The all-too-short break

So winter break ends, and all the students return, making Hyde Park a college town again. As we return, there is new bitterness in the air: griping about classes starting again, the hope for escape, by transfer if possible, or a year off. One wonders what happened to Hugo Sonnenschein's student life improvements that were supposed to make this university fun (again)? Our food, after all, is better than any campus save Yale, and the dorms are more brightly colored; that has to be fun, right? Nowadays, we do more than sink our heads into Aristotle and Heiddegger on Friday nights, don't we? Still, heads hang low, but we're almost happy to be back here.

Starting off: So there goes another all-too-short winter break. Three weeks is simply not enough rest after an exhausting quarter. It is akin to a half-hour lunch--long enough for one to think that it is possible to do something, but in reality, it isn't. What we need is something to the tune of five weeks, like other schools. How's that as a policy for making school more friendly? Somehow, I think that a longer vacation in advance of the quarter would be more effective than a single day off in February in improving morale. In any case, the last few weeks of Autumn quarter are insane. Ninth week is Thanksgiving, which allows three days of class, and a four day weekend; this is followed by three days of classes, and two days of reading period, two days of weekend; this is followed by finals week, and then break. It would make much more sense to schedule the quarter so that finals ended the week before Thanksgiving, and with the winter quarter not picking up until after New Year's, as it is now. It is not as if we would be alone in this; any number of schools on the quarter system operate this way, including DePaul.

Further sentiments: Once again, there are not nearly enough rooms for classes, nor are the classrooms nearly big enough at the beginning of the quarter. I think this may have something to do with the expansion of the college beyond its capacity to accommodate growth. There are still legends told of small seminar classes. I have not yet encountered any, yet I take any number of philosophy classes. Meanwhile, for some reason, one of my classes takes place in the BSLC. The entire building is made up of auditorium style lecture halls (with a few labs) Something gives me the feeling that the College isn't even trying to keep down class sizes, and it has the infrastructure to prove it.

Final gripe: desk-chair combinations. Like a spork, but completely without use. Even though the ones we have are luxuriously padded, they still are notoriously difficult to sit in comfortably, or even lean back in. Meanwhile, the desktop is certainly not large enough to lay out a notebook and whatever book you're trying to refer to at the time. Trying to be serious in such a contraption is impossible. Yet, I see more of them every day. What ever happened to the seminar table and real chairs? Oh, the days of the college gone by, I suppose.