October 28th, 2010 2:09 am
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve elicited a strange look or created a pause in conversation or a half-serious joke every time I mention that I live in West Philly—well no, I might not be rich, but I would definitely have enough nickels to put in a sock and make it heavy enough to cripple someone with. Before I came to Penn, some people told me not to live here. I didn’t pay attention. I was probably listening to the Fresh Prince theme song too loud in my headphones.
West Philly isn’t bad. I’m sure you’ve heard that too, sometimes from people who only tell you that half-kiddingly, knowing they would never live out in the “Wild West” themselves. Well that is, until your roommate yells out “there’s a bat in my room” and you run out with your Swiss army blade and realize that he is not kidding at all. At all.
If you’ve never seen the 17th episode of the third season of The Office, queue it up now and you’ll get an idea of some of the absurdity that happened for the rest of the night, except with bucketloads more cursing. No one got rabies. It wasn’t the way I in envisioned the night before my first day of Med school classes here, but then again I don’t know if I would have believed any of those West Philly haters who warned me that holy crap, there are bats out there. It’s just too good of an I-told-you-so moment. I can only imagine poetic justice like this on a TV show. Maybe I’ll move to Bel-Air and commute to class next year.
October 24th, 2010 7:49 pm
It is not secret that the squirrels on Penn’s campus are perhaps some of the strangest animals to walk this Earth. I’ve seen these squirrels do some of the oddest things – whether it be taking McDonalds out of the garbage to devour or travel long distances on their hind legs. Being only a sophomore, I know that the range of my experiences with these squirrels speaks volumes. By time I’m a senior, the squirrels will be an integral part of my college experience. I’m not the only student affected though – squirrels are part of what make Penn the interesting place it is.
If I needed any confirmation that the squirrels were indeed a big deal I recently got just that – there is officially a Facebook page dedicated to them. I realize that having a facebook page dedicated to you is not exactly the greatest mark of significance. Everything and anything is on facebook, including a page dedicated to “I Hate Slow Computers” has a facebook page with over 5 million supporters.
But the UPenn Squirrels page is much different – it isn’t one of those pages that you can “like.” It’s an actual profile that someone built as if the UPenn Squirrels were able to use a computer. What’s even better is that there could not be a more accurate depiction of the squirrels. Their tagged pictures show them breaking into people’s room, pulling food items of the garbage (a favorite pastime of Penn’s squirrels) and the most bizarre activity – getting really close to humans. Penn’s squirrels are something the students look to not only for woodland comfort, but just daily bursts of unexpected entertainment.
So the next time I see a squirrel on Penn, I will not move very quickly in fear of its uncontrolled agility – instead I will stop and take a picture, so that I can tag the snapshot my furry friend.
October 23rd, 2010 11:55 pm
In a recent article in The Washington Examiner, President Obama stated that although he doesn’t know what it’s like to be picked on for being gay, he does “know what it’s like to grow up feeling that sometimes you don’t belong.” This quote, in response to the recent LGBT suicides, seems to capture a very scary truth in our country: bullying is a major problem for today’s youth. It is for this reason that I think anti-bullying classes should be implemented in elementary schools.
Requiring anti-bullying classes this early would be more affective than reaching out to students later on because young kids are more impressionable than older students. We need to catch students before hatred seems normal. Such a course should teach tolerance, empathy, and communication skills. We also need to implement a system in which bullies are immediately separated from those they’re bullying, and are educated, while those who are bullied receive support and counseling. This country doesn’t need anymore tragedies like the recent suicides, whether they occur inside or outside the LGBT community.
Penn recently held several pro LGBT events, including a candle lit vigil in conjunction with other universities around the nation. However, bigotry against the LGBT community, and hatred against others, still persists in this country. As President Obama said, anyone can be targeted by bullies for any reason. People need to learn to embrace other people rather than to condemn them. Thus, people need to be educated early and often not to hate throughout their school careers. Bullying should not be tolerated under any circumstances.
October 15th, 2010 3:21 pm
Teaching can be an exhausting profession. Not only must teachers stand in front of classes of curious, often confused and sleep deprived students but they must also grade papers and tests. For college professors, the work load is often intensified by the amount of time they spend on their research. So it’s understandable that sometimes they might want some assistance. However, a new trend being implemented by universities like the University of Houston, “Virtual-TA,” may be taking the definition of assistance a bit too far.
Here’s how Virtual-TA works: professors in the U.S. ship papers, along with their respective rubrics, overseas to such places as India, Singapore, and Malaysia. There, graders with advanced degrees grade the papers, and send them back to U.S. teachers.
Besides the fact that there are many people here who would love to be in-class TAs, I can’t help but wonder if there’s something wrong with our teaching system that we have to, ironically, send papers to non-native English speakers to be graded. An article in The Chronicle claims that TAs and even professors at the University of Houston have trouble correcting their students’ papers. Furthermore, apparently the students have trouble writing the papers. Are professors assigning too much work? Or is this a sign that our teaching system is in peril?
A professor owes it to her students to check their work herself (or with the help of the TAs that work with the class), and actually know how they’re doing. This is the only way learning can actually occur—through personal interactions with people who know your work.
October 10th, 2010 3:15 am
One day, while I was minding my own business, I was unexpectedly soaked. It wasn’t raining, there was no water balloon fight going on, and there was not a car or a puddle in sight. I was drenched by something seemingly harmless – the sprinklers that keep Hamilton village’s grass green.
The first thought that may come to the reader’s mind is “Idiot, why didn’t you see the sprinklers and move before they wet you?” To that I say; I did see the sprinklers, and I was aware of what I assumed would be their trajectory. But, out of the nowhere, the sprinkler jerked into a totally different path and within seconds, left me screaming and running for cover.
And I’m not the only one. I’ve seen this happen to innocent people all the time. They will be walking, either solo, or with a group of people, along the red paths through the green casually, but with caution and awareness of the squirting water. Then BAM – the sprinklers turn, hit them, and launch a mass escape.
My question is – why do they run the sprinklers at such odd hours? It is always when there are plenty of people about. Why not run them at 3AM on a weekday? Or at 11:10AM, when most people have class? Does the grass have to be wet at 7PM in the evening? Regardless, I’ve learned my lesson – stay far, far away, the sprinklers’ charge is to water everything around them, be it grass or not.
October 8th, 2010 5:47 pm
Each morning, regardless of how late I stayed up studying or partying, I am woken up at 6:30 on the nose–an abominable hour for someone who purposely scheduled their classes to begin at 11 each day.
The blaring sound cues the start to my roommate’s day. She not-so-silently rolls out of bed, changes into her work-out clothes and runs out the door. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, I was randomly assigned to room with a Varsity cross country runner.
The prospect of random assignment excited me; the possibilities of my future roommate were endless and this way I avoided creepily speed-stalking girls on the Facebook group. But after a week of early wake-up calls, I realized that I, or rather Penn’s method of roommate assignment, had made a mistake.
Why is there no basic survey for incoming freshmen to fill out, asking the most crucial questions for rooming: What time do you go to bed and wake up? Do you keep your room clean or dirty? Do you party or stay in and study?
By just asking these three simple questions, Penn could easily avoid several roommate conflicts–and finally allow me one full night of sleep.