What Would College Life Be Better Off Without? Part 2: Deadbeat Profs, Bad Grammar & Post-Grad Life Goals

What would college life be better off without?  In separate articles and op-eds appearing in campus newspapers throughout this past semester, students offered a bevy of suggestions on “unnecessary traditions, ideas and institutions” that should be scrapped or significantly changed.

Taken together, they represent a massive de-cluttering worthy of a similar feature published in The Washington Post.  The Post‘s annual “Spring Cleaning” asks a select group of thinkers to nominate “an idea, a tradition, a habit, a technology . . . that we’d all be better off tossing out” from society at-large.

In its four-year run, writers have proposed that everything from engagement rings, exit polls, and premium gas to chick flicks, small talk, and the vice presidency be given the boot.

In the spirit of those real-world recommendations, consider the list below a collegiate spring cleaning of sorts.  It is Part 2 of a sampling of academic, social, residential, and fashion trends and traditions that student columnists contend should be trashed or upended.  (Read Part 1)

6. Deadbeat Professors

“In all my time at Chico State, I never had a professor that wasn’t excited about teaching.  Until this semester.  Twice every week, I have to suffer through an uncharacteristically bad lecture from a man who constantly bemoans how little he wants to be standing at the front of the class, in between five-minute mini-speeches on information nearly every person in the room already knows.  This professor is constantly condescending, subtly implying that we’d rather be out partying than attending a class we each took great pains and expenses to take.  And as a result, I dread going every day. . . . Sometimes all it takes is the effects of one bad worker to demonstrate why it’s so important to do the job right.”

Ben Mullin, The Orion, California State University, Chico

7. Gender-Specific Campus Housing

“Gender-neutral housing means the choice to live with someone whom students know will be supportive of their sexuality or gender identity. It means freedom from discomfort, discrimination, harassment and fear.  It means the choice to live with those who are most comfortable with them, and, in turn, to live in the environment they find most comfortable– a right taken for granted by every other student. . . . [T]his is not just about providing a new housing option for one group of students. This is about ensuring every American has access to the American Dream, to the equality of rights guaranteed by our Constitution. . . . This issue affects us all. Equality isn’t a special interest. Americans have a responsibility to demand the promises of our founding be fulfilled and to fight so their fellow citizens may be recognized as human beings worthy of the same regard, the same respect, the same basic dignity.”

Editorial Board, The Oklahoma Daily, University of Oklahoma

8. Smoking Breaks for Student Workers

“Whether you’re a smoker or a nonsmoker, you are likely familiar with the term ‘smoke break.’  As a nonsmoker, my familiarity stems from the admiration that develops as I watch my co-workers indulge in 10 minutes or so of uninterrupted, paid, break time.  Ten minutes to stand or sit outside where they can smoke, check their phone and re-group.  Let’s imagine for a minute a nonsmoker, like myself, walks outside during a shift, sits down and checks his or her text messages.  Such a scenario would most likely be followed by a soliloquy of screaming from a manager.  But wait– my co-worker just did the exact same thing. Oh, I see, they have an excuse because they’re smoking? . . . I simply ask where my nonsmoking break is.  If I cannot have a nonsmoking break in the workplace, then please discontinue the permission of short breaks for smokers.”

Emma DeFilippo, The Lantern, Ohio State University

9. Bad Grammar

“This column is going to be about . . . a national emergency– the complete deterioration of our ability to write well.  Even at Yale I have experienced disdain for my love of grammar. . . . Grammar governs the way we speak, so we couldn’t communicate without it. . . . But did you know that, according to founder of National Grammar Day Martha Brockenbrough, ‘In one survey of hiring managers, 75 percent said it was worse for an applicant to have a spelling or grammar error on his application than for him to show up late or– get this– swear during an interview.’  Even worse, ‘A utility company in Canada had to pay an extra $2.13 million in 2006 to lease power poles because someone stuck a comma in the wrong spot.’  Grammar matters.”

Scott Stern, The Yale Daily News, Yale University

10. Post-Graduation Life Goals

“You have probably stopped counting the number of times you were told to keep focused on your goals.  The truth though, is that if you do, you will never achieve what you want. What a disaster. . . . Why do we have these dreams and seek after these goals? If we look deeply we will realize that it is because we want to experience a certain feeling. It may be security, respect, independence, power, thrill or perhaps happiness. Is it possible however, to experience these feelings before reaching our goals? Yes we can, and it is important that we do. . . . We must put your entire focus on NOW– letting go of the future to take care of itself. It always does. We cannot achieve anything outside of the present, so ‘take one day at a time.’  Nothing else is possible beyond this truth. Go ahead. Make wonderful goals; I have many. Know that ultimately, however, goals do not matter. The only thing that matters is what you do with NOW.”

Courtney Simons, The Spectrum, North Dakota State University

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Part 1: Essays, Unpaid Internships & Nice Guys Finishing Last

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