On a lighter note.
I wanted to share an editorial email I sent to our local paper, “The Virginia Gazette”, which comes out twice a week. There is a community forum editorial page at the end entitled, “The Last Word”, whereby folks in the community can submit input regarding various circumstances they’ve encountered throughout their daily goings-on around town each week. Submissions vary from general Jeers and Cheers regarding what’s going on in the community to reviews and feedback about the opening of a new “Subway” shop right next door to the old sub shop which has maintained itself as a thriving privately owned, small family business for the past 200 years, etc.
Well, for the first time in ages (I had a submission published in the “Last Word” once over a decade ago about something that I cannot recall right now) I was inspired to submit an editorial to the “Last Word”, after visiting my alma mater’s campus library, “Earl Gregg Swem Library” at the College of William & Mary, to do some online scoring the other evening. I was blown away by what I saw, heard, smelled and even, tasted after unsuccessfully attempting to acquire a calm and quiet study area in the local campus library!
The email that I submitted the local VA Gazette’s “Last Word” (and hoped to be published, immediately) reads as follows: (please tell me what y’all think, if you have the time to entertain my submission)
SUBJECT LINE: "My Recent Visit to the W&M Library (or) Swemming with Sharks"
__As an Undergraduate alumna of the College of William and Mary and subsequent recipient of the School of Education’s “TEACH” Grant in 2003, the school prepared me well for successful completion of my ongoing career goals, including grad school from ODU in 2007 (with an MSEd in Special Education) and 17 years as a VDOE - Certified Special Educator. __
__My, have things changed in higher education since then! I recently visited the Earl Gregg Swem Library in hopes of finding a “quiet”, calm and wi-fi ready atmosphere, to complete an online scoring shift with my part-time, virtual employer, Educational Testing Services (ETS). Instead of encountering a “study-friendly” environment, which one would expect to find in an academic setting such as a “library”. I felt like I was walking into “Animal House” with Belushi greeting me at the “Circulation Desk”! __
__It starts with the deafening, cacophonous night club music ( blasting playlists downloaded straight from the “Parental Advisory List” with the most appallingly inappropriate lyrics on high volume display !) that greets you at the entrance of the library, along with the seizure-inducing lights flashing in tandem with the bass booming, audio jumping out at you from the cafe at “Aromas”. Abandon all hope for a productive study session, if you dare enter into the “Aromatic” gauntlet of ghastly noise, shouting melodious expletives via the cafe’s speaker system. I had to practically scream at the cafe staff (with my ears plugged with my forefingers) for them to hear me over the thundering, raunchy music shouting lyrics about fellatio. __
And five mins. later, it is no wonder that I trashed the $7.15 “coffee-mocha-smoothie” thingy with chunks of “stuff” floating in it ( which the cashier boisterously recommended to me - in between singing along to the thundering song about fellatio…playing in a “library”, people! ) as it tasted like something that a lost appetite couldn’t even appreciate.
__The aroma of the cafe permeated throughout the rest of the library, as students paid no attention nor respect to each other’s need for calm and quiet as they endeavored to study. The party continued on every floor (incl. the “Quiet” third floor) with mini-social gatherings disguised as “study groups”. I soon realized, to my horror, that no one dare complained about the highly distractible environment (which used to be a library) because most of them weren’t even studying! The few, marginalized souls who actually were attempting to use the library for what it was intended, were relegated to isolated, individual study rooms with the doors shut (and probably locked, if possible).excuse the typos.
Is this what has happened to academia in the 21st century? I am all for upgrading the facilities and designing more socially relevant, collaborative environments for students to congregate and study. Yet, the ill-designed combo of night club style cafes and study rooms is equivalent to allowing the inmates run the asylum. Of course, students want to party. Yet, they also need to study. If W&M is attempting to coalesce the two activities for the sake of student satisfaction, then we will end up with a society of unproductive and irrelevant “numb skulls” who “sure know how to party”! Are we preparing our graduates to become professional globalized servants to the nation or “Employee of the Month” at Party City? Although both goals play an important role in the community, one need not pursue a four-year liberal arts degree to accomplish the latter.
(W&M Alumna - Class of 1999 - Philosophy & Religion)
What do y’all think? Too harsh? I hope that I didn’t sound…(gulp)…“elitist” - Please, God, No! Not that!