Campus 10/8

This week in The Campus

  • Uncover the history of females at Midd: As much as we all want to learn the origins of the Chellis House, here’s the real juicy histoire: Admitting women came from a “fear of insignificance with an all-time low of only 38 students enrolled” back in 1883. It took until 1902 to establish a “women’s college” based out of Pearsons and Forest Halls. But, as President Ron Liebowitz said in a speech last spring, segregation by gender was tossed to the wayside due to a financial crisis and the college was integrated soon after.
  • You can take the Middkid out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the Middkid: If you just aren’t getting enough action profiling students, these five narratives give you an idea of what the city slickers have to say about being in the middle of nowhere.
  • Ari Fleisher ’82 Visits Campus: You’ll notice that event is tonight 8PM in Dana Auditorium. It’s a big speaker — press secretary for President W. Bush. Let’s hope you can find a seat because as far as I know, there’s no overflow seating.
  • College remembers Berlin Wall’s demise: There’s a replica Berlin Wall wall going up around campus. Post your guesses as to where it will be: “it will be conspicuous so that students can understand the challenges of living in a city separated by a physical barrier.”
  • Editorial – Midterm Woes: The Campus suggests that the quantity of workload should be reduced but with stricter uniform policies on due dates for assignments. Cool. I think it rather misses the point. The culture here is such that if we reduce the workload, students will replace the “work” with other “work” outside class. We’ve got student organizations to run, jobs to apply for, and the world to save. It’s rather our culture of achievement that underlies frantic sprints across Battell Beach, mid-morning Airborne shots, and skipping lunch even after giving blood. We should be practicing doing less but also using that extra time to digest and reflect on our academic, social, and extracurricular lives. The irony of the quest to “take advantage of all Middlebury has to offer” is that if we actually try to do so, we often fail to accomplish anything meaningful in our four years here.
  • Quidditch, It’s Coming… stay tuned to MiddBlog for more World Cup coverage of the 26 teams and the biggest festival at Middlebury since Dispatch planned a reunion concert…
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3 thoughts on “Campus 10/8

  1. I want to offer my perspective in regard to The Campus Editorial and Ryan’s critique of it.

    First, Ryan, I don’t quite understand your critique. As I understand it, you’re moving towards the larger point of involvement in extra curriculars and how Midd-kids can be over-involved. Many midd-kids are certainly over scheduled, and my take is that this inhibits the type of learning we’re here to do in a liberal arts setting. That being said, I think that is a separate issue, and the questions of workload and academic standards remain important.

    Before I talk about the general workload/ standards issue, I must offer the caveat that this problem that is not universal. There are a wide range of teaching styles amongst Professors at Middlebury. Nevertheless, I think it’s imperative that the problem be addressed across the College.

    My general point is that [in some classes] there isn’t an ideal setting for learning because of workload and standards. There is more reading than students will realistically do. Also standards are lenient both for getting reading done, and from what I hear, for handing in assignments on time.

    The bottom line: if there was both more realistic and uniform workload across the college, along with consistent standards, the intellectual culture of classes would improve.

  2. For full disclosure, I’m on the Editorial Board of The Campus, and was somewhat involved in coming up with the idea for the Editorial. That being said, these are my personal opinions, and not those of The Campus.

  3. I agree with points both of you make.

    George, you are correct in saying that a realistic workload coupled with consistent standards will help to improve the intellectual culture of classes. I have been in graduate school for four weeks now (not that this makes me an expert on graduate school). The reading load is lighter (half of a book per course per week here vs. one book [or its equivalent] per course per week at Middlebury), but the discussions are deeper and more meaningful. There is no longer the rush to read 500 pages in two days; my classmates and I have the time to read, digest, retain, and recall. I certainly don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining about my Middlebury education. I loved it and have benefited from it greatly, but I cannot help but wonder if my experience could have been more intellectually engaging if the reading had been turned down and the discussions turned up.

    That said, I think Ryan is wise to bring up his concern that students may fill up their time with more extra-curricular activity if professors reduce the workloads. This is where the students need to exercise a certain level of maturity and responsibility. You can’t do everything. It is better to do a few things exceedingly well, than a lot of things poorly. I saw this as a student, I see this now as pseudo-staff: students who run themselves ragged, who are present for meetings or social events but aren’t really “present,” who dread their academic work. How miserable!

    So, my point is that if the intention is to change campus culture and to promote improved intellectual engagement, then professors and students alike must do their part. Professors should reduce the amount of reading they assign, but students should commit fully to engaging the reading for their own and the intellectual community’s benefit.

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