What Graduate Schools Are Missing

September 27, 2009 by Jen

Graduate school is not such a bad setup, in all honesty (see previous reflections). I can say that now, having just turned in my first full-length paper this afternoon, half an hour before the deadline.

But after serious and thoughtful reflection of the most serious and thoughtful kind, I have determined that a few simple additions would take the graduate school experience to a whole other level.
For example…
Stairs leading from the commuter parking lot that are spaced for either one or two strides. Not one and a half. I realize that universities are popular sites for weddings, but really, the likelihood of couples choosing this particular set of stairs for the processional is very slim. Ergo, the step-together-step-together rhythm produced by the spacing of the stairs is completely wasted.
Coffee fountains. I know water is healthier, and less disastrous when accidentally squirted up your nose and all over the front of your shirt, but think of the bright eyes and rapidly twitching pens that would emerge as early as 9 a.m. Think of the additional fees the university could tack onto student bills. Think of the protests that would allow non-coffee drinkers to practice civic engagement. Who wouldn’t win?
Tutorials on the proper use of serration on plastic wrap. The act of writing is dependent on two things: intact fingers and an active brain. The brain can be solved by the aforementioned improvement, but the fingers are strongly connected to the ability of graduate students to pull plastic wrap out of a box (or aluminum foil) to wrap their peanut butter sandwiches WITHOUT serrating their fingertips.
Padded stairs in the library. If you place sleep-deprived and over-caffeinated students on the fifth floor of the library, load them down with books and computers and giant coffee mugs and illicit food items and notebooks and cell phones, the least you can do is pad the stairs. Metal stairs are just begging for an accident, especially where loosely flapping shoes or high heels are concerned. These are grad students. They will save the books and computer, not their knees. Have pity.
And last but not least…
Campus-wide conveyor belts so students can safely use their cell phones while moving between classes. I know, it might encourage rather than discourage this anti-social behavior, but it’s a public hazard for the rest of us, folks. Side-stepping can only get you so far. These conveyor belts should preferably be soundproofed, so those of us who prefer not to become privy to the intimate drama of your roommate’s friend’s aunt are free to remain blissfully ignorant.
It’s not much to ask, right?
Right?
I thought not.
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