Friday, May 01, 2009


Silly Season

'Tis Spring – almost finals – and you can tell on campus. The characteristic signs are there:

1.People walk much faster, and with visibly pinched expressions.

2.Student complaints about instructors are suddenly skyrocketing, and expressed with earnest urgency.

3.I've already inadvertently interrupted a few couples in the midst of, uh, expressing their couplehood, usually in stairways. What it is about stairways, I honestly don't know.

4.The rubber chicken circuit is back!

5.Lots of random sneezing, as every tree blossomed in the same 24 hours. It's getting to the point where I can identify certain people by their sneezes. They're like fingerprints.

6.Last-minute consultant visits for program reviews. Somehow, May always catches people by surprise. In my experience, it typically follows April.

7.Apocalyptic rhetoric at meetings. That usually peaks in the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas rush and between Spring Break and Finals.

8.The smokers linger longer outdoors.

9.Faculty have retreated to their offices, where they disappear under herniating piles of grading. I have occasional visions of some future archeologist finding the skeleton of an English professor surrounded by plastic-covered papers full of “could of” and “alot” and “Being that...”

10.Those last few purchases of the fiscal year always require multiple budget-line moves, each with three or four levels of approval. They're sort of like logic problems gone horribly wrong. A train with fourteen passengers leaves Chicago heading North at 60 miles per hour. How long before the passengers drown in Lake Michigan?

How does Spring play out on your campus?

The hallway makeout sessions are a sure sign of spring. As I'm 9 months pregnant, I feel like a walking caution sign as I go through the halls!
The unattractive kids that hang out in the common area near my office go outside to sun themselves -- and take off most of their clothing... I have to shut my blinds.
Grad students either disappear to finish substantial projects or spend their schoolworkless days outside, enjoying the spring weather.
People post to their blogs less....
Uh, when it turns left at Milwaukee?
I wish there were a train that went north at 60 mph. (Make that 110, the way they once did.) A left turn at Milwaukee would take it away from Lake Michigan. Continuing north, however, we could talk about drowning the passengers in Lake Superior.
"How does Spring play out on your campus?"

Just about exactly like that. Only, we have the added attraction (conservatory) of hundreds of kids dudded-up in their recital clothes hanging around waiting to play their "juries"--year-end assessments of adequate-or-not progress in their musicianship. The term "jury" is well-chosen but should be used with the modifier "hanging-jury."
Yes, I know Spring has hit full force when the students line up for faculty (well, actually grade) complaints. It hits us a little later, as we are only halfway through our Spring Quarter.

On the other hand, the deadline for purchasing was yesterday and we were indeed frantically moving dollars between lines in budgets, and between budgets themselves. The Budget Office sent at least 10 email warnings of the purchasing deadline, but inevitably several folks were indignant over this precipitous and allegedly uncommunicated date (never mind that it has always been the last day of April).
It is spring when the students finally start sending e-mail to their instructor: "What does it take to pass this class, which I absolutely need if I am going to graduate?"
@CCPhysicist: Bang on! On my faculty web page, I used to include a link to a site claiming to sell a time machine. The text: "Concerned about deadlines? Click here."

I removed the link after remedial courses began taking up 2/3 of my load. It just seemed cruel then.
"Being that…"

I thought I was the only one who saw this brand of fragment regularly. God bless you, I see I'm not alone! Being that I thought I was.

(Sorry, DD: it's the spring mischief in me.)
Ahhhh, spring time on campus, I miss those days!!!
Two sure signs of spring for grad students:

#1 we have tables permanently staked out on the top floor of the library and subsist on coffee and granola bars.

#2 my inbox is flooded with students asking me, the TA, to go behind the professor's back and allow them to turn in extra work for credit, because, "how could I possibly have only a C?"
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