Monday, August 22, 2011

Dear Class of 2015,

(Please choose the applicable response as you read along)

Dear Member of the Class of 2015,

Congratulations on moving to (Macomb/Terre Haute/Kalamazoo/Winona/LaCrosse/Iowa City)! I'm sure that you are excited to begin a new school year here at [insert name of large public university here], and are ready to begin rooting for the [name of mascot]s this coming Saturday. Great tickets are still available at the box office - don't miss out on your chance to be part of a great campus tradition!

Please bear in mind that while your years at [name of large public suburban high school] have prepared you for the rigors of the classes you will be taking [stop laughing], there may be some skills that living in [Buffalo Grove, Carmel, Bloomfield Hills, St. Louis Park, Waukesha, name of an Iowa suburb if Iowa had suburbs] may not have fully prepared you for. Below is a guide of practical information that you may have missed.

1. You do not have to drive to school. You may have noticed that we have strategically placed our dormitories very close to campus. So close, in fact, that you can even see your classrooms from your bed. We did this on purpose. We know it's the only way we have a shot in hell of getting you to your 8am Econ class. Yes, the dismantling of intercity public transportation in the United States may mean that the only realistic way of getting from [Medium sized Midwestern City] to [Affluent Suburb] is by car, the best way for you to get from your room to class is by walking. It's three blocks - really you'll be fine. Unless your parents were so freaked out by the idea of you sharing a shower with a stranger that you are living in a private dorm half way across town. Don't yell at us for your parking tickets - we still gave you a bus pass.

2. We have labelled all buildings and rooms. With room numbers, the first number is the floor where you can find the room. If you are looking for room 307, do not ask someone in office 104 if this is room 307. Now, if you find yourself on the third floor between room 305 and 309, then sure... look around for an extra sign or double check to make sure you are in the right building. Seriously, we do not have that Harry Potter platform 9 3/4 thing going on. We're too busy messing with you in other ways to do something that cheap.

3. Not only have we labelled all buildings and rooms, we even print a map with the locations on them. Please consult this map before you ask us where the library is. Especially when you are standing 20 feet from a giant sign that says [Name of old wealthy dead couple] Library. I know you think you won't look cool walking around with a map in your hand, but I assure you that no Freshman looks cool asking random people where the union is.

4. No, YOU don't pay my salary. Collectively, the tuition of all of you students put together covers a percentage of my salary. The majority of the operating expenses of this department comes from a grant from [Name of wealthy alumnus] when he donated the money for the new building for the [Name of the new "IN" thing on campus... indoor football training facility, cinema, campus gym and tanning facility], as funding for general administration. Additional funding is provided by the State, but a larger portion of our budget comes from the good folks at [name of giant Pharmaceutical Company] and [name of large bank or accounting firm], especially due to the large cuts from the State [Legislature / General Assembly / Senate / Governor] and pressure to keep tuition low. So, please consider a career in pharmaceutical sales and support financial deregulation. Also, only 4% of students are as much of a pain in the ass as those who resort to the "I pay your salary" excuse for treating me like shit, and I'd take a 4% pay cut not to deal with this 4%. Gladly. And really, it's only like a $2.50 rebate because I'm underpaid and if it wasn't for my wife's tenure-track position teaching Comparative African Literature, I would be in a town with better job opportunities and making a hell of a lot more money with my MBA. I haven't had a cost of living increase in 5 years in order to keep your tuition lower than the 10% increase you've seen in that time, so really, YOU owe ME.

5. Target will still be open next week. I swear, it will.

6. Dorm food really isn't that bad. If it were, there wouldn't be the Freshman 15. The problem is that all of you, when you got your housing contracts, picked the cheapest meal plan, and then complained about how expensive it was. Plus, once you get to campus, you are now going to complain about the quality, that there are not enough healthier options, that it should be local, that it should be organic, that there needs to be a vegan Kosher option in every dining hall, and that the dining hall needs longer hours. All of this requires money, which you aren't willing to pony up. So, none of you are going to starve, but just remember that you get what you pay for. This will be the first in a lifelong series of disappointments caused by underfunding government programs. ENJOY!

7. Similarly, while your professors will be amazing, awe-inspiring, and life-changing, you will not see them until your Senior year. Instead, you will be taught by academic temps, ABD's, random grad students, and people from the community who will teach based on "life experience". This means that you may have a pharmacist teaching you emergency management, or a political science grad student teaching statistics, but in our defense, the poli sci student is Chinese, and you know how the Asians are good at math. Just remember than while tenured professors are engaged and actually interested in teaching, they are expensive. Perhaps if you paid $200 per credit hour instead of $125, maybe we could hire some more.

8. Those random 8-sided red signs at intersections mean something. They aren't the same kind that you see in the suburbs that tell you to yield before turning onto a main road from your subdivision. These are used to actually control traffic at the intersection. You do not get to slow down and continue. You have to stop. In many cases, you may have to let 3 whole cars pass through the intersection before proceeding. This will require something called patience. Work on it.

9. Townies are not hicks. University staff probably are not. Many of us grew up in the same suburbs you did. I may have graduated from your high school. I know there many not be another liberal around for 50 miles, but it's because we've all banded together in some type of post-hippie commune community where we have community gardens and three local theater companies. Stop looking at us like we drive tractors to work. Did you see our hybrids out in the commuter lot? Did you notice that we recycle? We have a huge Farmers Market in town? And, really, do you think that the undergrads are visiting the sculpture garden down the street from [Name of Giant Sports Bar]? Those bike lanes that run all over town are not for you - they are for us. Stop acting like we're uncivilized, unsophisticated hicks. We do control your financial aid and transfer credits, after all.

10. Please... let your parents kiss you goodbye. Even if it is in public. You won't understand, but in 30 years, when your daughter is part of the class of 2045 and heading off to Youngstown State, you'll completely understand.

Try not to drink too much too often, and do learn something - even if it's just something about yourself. And, as always, please swing by the athletics office and buy some football tickets. We have a huge athletics academic support complex that needs to be paid off, or we all lose our health insurance.

The Administration

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