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Today's word on journalism

January 13, 2009


"I get the feeling that the 24-hour news networks are like the bus in the movie 'Speed.' If they stop talking for a second, they think they'll blow up."

--Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, 2008 (Thanks to alert WORDster Ross Martin)

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Finals week: Survival of the fittest

By Greg Boyles

December 12, 2008 | Finals Week usually brings with it a connotation of unpleasant anticipation and overall discomfort, putting most students on the verge of aneurysms and ulcers. In the last few weeks of the semester, most students can be seen hunched over books or staring at computer screens, fervidly studying for their next exam.

But a pit full of anxiety isn't all Finals Week does to a student. It also seems to bring out the sarcastic, somewhat impatient and occasionally rude side of people. It's as if a gas is released the week before finals that brings out everyone's inner beast. Life ceases to be about being a courteous individual and drastically switches to survival of the fittest.

This transformation is seen most vividly among roommates and fellow students at the library.

The roommate conflict seems to be the most obvious and problematic. Two people, one room and they both have different studying habits. One roommate likes music on, while the other needs quiet. One likes to study with their significant other, while the other prefers to be alone. These circumstances, as well as the added stress, lead to World War III and a broken boom box.

To avoid this conflict, the student may choose leave the residents halls and try the library, but life doesn't get much better there. Instead of one cranky person, the student is surrounded by hundreds of students cramming last minute information into their brains. The student will think to themselves, "Damn, I wish I had booked a study room instead of sharing a table with a complete stranger."

But the student will quickly learn the study rooms cause just as much drama if not more than being back in their apartment.

From the table against the wall the student will witness a man, who is carrying five math books, walk up to one of the study room doors, rip it open and yell to the group inside, "Your time's up, get out of here." The group, hard at work on their own engineering project stands in unison to rebuff the unexpected visitor.

"We signed up for this room until 8:30, it's only 8:29, so take a hike," one of the students shouts.

After this a fist-flying brawl will ensue with the theme song from "West Side Story" playing over the loudspeaker of the library. Other students sitting nearby will join in hopes of warding off the cause of all the disturbance, only to add to the problem. This will leave the floor of the library scattered with torn books, smashed computer monitors and one giant model of the solar system broken in the million little pieces.

OK, this may be an exaggeration of what finals week is like, but it's not far off. So many students are wrapped up in their own stress and anxiety that they forget there are 20,000 other students on campus going through the same thing.

However, it's not the student that I blame for this mental switch that occurs on Finals Week. What can anyone expect from a group of people who just got off a week long break where they could eat and sleep all they wanted without thinking about school. And then they're asked to take five finals on three different subjects in two different languages. No bueno.

Or maybe the animal mentality is just leftover from Black Friday, a day where people stormed through stores, knocking over their neighbors simply to nab the new Hot Wheels toy for their kid. I will, however, give students the benefit of the doubt and assume they won't barge through the library doors and trample the librarians to death. No bueno.

So this Finals Week let's try to be a little more civil than we have in years past. Be patient with your friends and loved ones. Remember, they're probably so stressed they'd like to punch you in the face, too.

Having said this, I'd like to encourage all of you who think Finals Week pranks are funny to resist the temptation to set off blow horns in the library or residents halls. This article can only change so many minds, meaning some people will continue to be high strung and may actually throw you off the roof of a very tall building.


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