Oberlin College Kills Brain Cells

To the Editors:

I DON’T UNDERSTAND,and so far no one has been able to explain it to me. What are we doing to ourselves? Is it just me or do midterms and finals just suck? The whole campus warps into a gray hazy world of walking zombies. Research papers, econ midterm, physics lab reports and two months’ back-loads of journal entries are the only phrases people use to communicate. No one even talks about anything anymore. Simple jovial questions (How are you?) are answered in cryptic phrases like more pages. The only bonds between students are from the Long Walk. Those bregrudgeoningly taken Steps down towards A-level, knowing full well the lack of computers there will force the ever-gloomier march towards Biggs. A Red Bull for dinner, some Ritalin around 2:00 a.m. and coffee plus ibuprofen to keep everything balanced. I’m sure that’s good for my body (not a bio major).
Studying in an A-Level carrel all the questions become clear. A prophet from ages past, during a caffeine induced epiphany asks: are you really learning? Damned if I know. Everyone is too focused on output to really question what’s going on. There’s no time to properly re-write a paper when you’re torn between going to a study session or sleeping for two hours to make-up for that horrible evening when the drugs faded away and you woke up with 13 pages of the letter on your laptop screen. Yeah, definitely learning.
But right now as my econ professor rattles on about the marginal productivity of labor (N? who uses an “n” to denote labor?), I will ask the questions. Why are we doing this? Is it a conscious choice? Could the work be scattered a little more so that our lives and biorhythms don’t nose dive on some suicidal sine curve? Could midterms be a time when professors don’t have to specifically ask us to come to class on Thursday? Or students don’t have to ask if we’re doing something important? Or god forbid, a longer reading period? A rule that lets you move finals if you have three on the same day? Free coffee on A-level or a free cup from the Decafe for every two pages of complete unintelligible dribble where I have discussed concisely while citing extensively from books I didn’t read on subjects I don’t understand, because the Taurine in the Red Bull has reacted with the Speed in my blood stream, compounded by the all natural Harvest Power Bar, has me dancing around Mudd changing the home pages on Internet Explorer to porn (GOTCHA!). Ahhhhh Oberlin! Killing brain cells one person at a time.

–James Burris
College senior

November 8
November 15

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