The Collegian
Monday, April 15, 2024

A Modest Proposal, 2009

"It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great town or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin doors, crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags and importuning every passenger for an alms. ... A young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled." - Jonathan Swift.

It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great university when they see the pathways, the Commons and residence hall doors, crowded with students "hanging out": relaxing, exchanging words, laughing even. These students, instead of hard at work advancing their education, have been allowed to employ a fraction of their time strolling to greet acquaintances, whom they have seen mere months earlier.

I think it is agreed by all parties that this prodigious number of idle students is, in the present state of the nation, a very great grievance; and, therefore, whoever could find a method of making these students sound, useful members of the commonwealth would deserve so well as to have his or her statue set up, perhaps on the site of one of the new buildings to be completed, conveniently, the semester after I graduate.

The number of students in this school being usually reckoned 3,000, of these I calculate there may be about 1,000 who were obligated to return a week early for civic duties, such as putting together this fine paper. The question, therefore, is how this number shall be multiplied so all students would be fully engaged by mid-August, as I am assured by our trustees that a Richmond or Westhampton student without an exhausting schedule, packed resume and immaculate GPA is no salable commodity.

After surveying the chiefly idle campus during the week before the semester, I shall now humbly propose my (semi-)own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

The eradication of syllabus week is no longer enough. Classes shall begin one week earlier, so all students must settle in by mid-August, with the option of moving in Aug. 1 to prepare for the following addition: pre-terms.

With the sighting of several University Forest Apartment residents bold enough to hold a barbecue just days before the semester, pre-terms will join midterms and finals to elevate the rigor of Richmond academics to a more appropriate standard. If neighbors have time to learn each others' names, they have time to learn a few more things.

Therefore, the Living and Learning program in Lakeview Hall shall be extended to the entire campus, so that we do not become complacent with having only a lot more work than most universities. Students desiring integration of any kind shall be placated by the following proposition: four-year Core.

Summer reading shall no longer be a faint fifth-grade memory, as all students, no longer just first-years, shall be invited to get a jump on the texts. This integration of students from different disciplines will also encourage a key facet of education that students reported last semester they just couldn't get enough of: group projects.

Ideally, all Richmond-Westhampton interaction shall take place on a solely academic basis. That the library has served as the main orchestrator of social activity during the school week has been a positive trend. But the latest Gray development in co-ed residence halls already appears to be reversing that trend - that I could find an open library computer a mere 120 hours before the commencement of classes is an outrage.

Outrage - also fitting for the parking predicament. True, the new speed limit of 12 mph and decree that bans students from parking anywhere but their own lot are positive developments. But not far-reaching enough, and in a relapse of weakness and leniency, parking services allowed students to park in ANY student lot during the week before class.

The only entity that seemed to be on track was the help desk, which maintained a queue at all hours. Idle hands were no concern here, as the technician I observed fixed Macs with his left hand and PCs with his right. Fine work so that students won't fall prey to Spidermail deactivation, which I propose to occur if minimum e-mail checking falls below 50 log-ins per day.

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Finally, I've already taken the liberty of drafting blueprints for the destruction of the lodges to make room for more completely necessary construction, such as a new Richmond College deanery to match the expansion of its Westhampton counterpart. And with expanded space comes expanded power: Pig Roast and Beach Week shall be as banned as kegs.

I can think of no one objection that will possibly be raised against these proposals. Therefore, let no person talk to me of other expedients: Of reserving August as a sacred part of summer; Of evaluating the time required to complete assignments before issuing them; Of realizing students need downtime, sleep even; Of students themselves realizing sometimes dinner with a friend may do them more good than another hour locked in the library; Of the $100 fall parking fee meriting temporary stays in other lots, say, that colossal one by the gym that rarely fills up; Of wireless internet just ... working; Of dismantling the electric fence around the apartments on Pig Roast; Of waiting until the second week of class to issue a Collegian.

I am not so violently bent upon my own opinion as to reject any offer proposed. But before something of that kind shall be advanced in contradiction to my scheme, I desire the author or authors will be pleased maturely to consider two points.

First, the trend toward increasing work and regulations has already proven to recruit higher-caliber freshmen: The class of 2013 includes 28 Eagle Scouts and Girl Scout Gold Award winners, two published children's book authors, one rock opera composer and one former television actor. Second, the addition of 200 more freshmen than usual shall keep the fire underneath the upperclassmen instead of underneath their UFA grills.

I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the public good of my university. Unfortunately, I have only a year left by which I can better myself by pre-terms, projects, parking tickets ...

Contact staff writer Maura Bogue at

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