Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Non-Traditional (Part 2)

The further adventures of Nick, as he returns to school for the first time in twenty years...

In the first part -- recounted here -- I made my way to the hallowed campus of Southwestern College to attempt a second go at furthering my education.

Day 1 went well.  Which was the one thing I had assumed would go well this semester.  I had a few shocks, particularly when seeing how late students would mope into class, and just how apathetic the atmosphere was here and there.

More shocks on Tuesday?  You betcher butt.  But we'll get to that in a moment...

Crushing Tiny Cities, The Four Things All Students Need, and What Happens When James Bond Mistakes You For Someone Else

Last Thursday I went to the Student Center to get my photo ID, to make it easier to use the facilities.  To do so, the man with the camera had me step behind a blue line, then tilted it up about forty degrees to get my head in the shot.  The camera was mounted on a shelf about two-and-a-half feet high, meaning that my ID photo is shot up and at an angle that makes me look like that big fellow atop of the beanstalk. 

Before I left the building, crushing tiny cities as I went, the cameraman asked, "Hey!  Are you still with the newspaper?"  This was a bit distracting, since I'd only been with the paper about two hours at the time. 

You have no rightsh on thish campush.

I then recognized him - James Bond.  And no, I'm not kidding.  Mr. Bond is the very gent who tried throwing me off campus a little more than a year ago for trying to register voters.  It didn't go well for him.  He got schooled in First Amendment rights by a lawyer/professor and I had to agree to sign in if I showed up on campus again to do radical terroristy things like utilizing the Democratic process.

I signed in that day, and never again.  And that little action was mentioned in the nationally-infamous Muzzle Award given by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression to SWC for their (former administration's) inability to understand those most basic American rights.  I call that a win.

But apparently Commander Bond had assumed I was already with those rabblerousers at the Sun, so I answered, "Nope.  I was a civilian when you tried to throw me off campus."

The last bit of weirdness I got was when I took a little coupon book with discounts for those important student needs.  A couple bucks off for books, a buck off at the cafeteria, a couple of dollar-off coupons at Jason's coffee cart, and...

Discount hepatitis shots.  Yep, a little something for that student that does have everything.

True Believers, You Mean... I Actually Gotta Buy Stuff?, That Sneaky Homework, and You'll Get Your Money When We're Damned Good And Ready To Give It To You.

I picked up my books over the weekend, and armed with those books and my coupons - in case the urge for a hot coffee or an ice-cold Heptivax struck - I returned to class on Tuesday morning, Business 120.

You're serious about the textbook?
 I also brought my completed homework - the only homework yet assigned.  So what percentage of the class had finished theirs?  Maybe 25%.  And how many of the forty or so students had bought their textbook - the one necessary for the 60-page reading assignment it took me about six hours to complete?  About four.

Forgive me if I seem to be harping on this, but I simply can't understand this.  So far, we've been told to do only three things: get the textbook, read two chapters, and do a short non-graded quiz.  The answers of most of the students appear to be "no, no, and... no."

Sometime later, I found out that one of the reasons that so many of the students didn't have the books, is that at SWC, the school doesn't start giving out financial aid - including that needed to buy books - until the second week.  Apparently this makes sense to someone.  But not to me, and likely not to the students who are now at least one day behind in every class, and will likely be closer to a week behind.

If only we had some new people in power who could look into this vast abyss of stupidity!

In Journalism 200, Professor Max Branscomb spent the day lecturing on the journalists' Code of Ethics.  It's clearly a passion of his, and it came through.  It's always a pleasure to watch someone who believes in what he or she is lecturing.  Max's passion is good, high-quality journalism, and that comes shining through.

Mike Van Keith is a true believer of the power of business, and he demonstrates that with every word, peppering his lectures with anecdotes and asides that shows how well he understands how it all works.  Both instructors are easy to listen to and easy to understand, but use completely different styles of lectures.

More on that later.  I've got to keep this short.  I've got a couple of chapters to read, and a bit of homework to do.

Thank God I went ahead and bought those books.

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