Syllabus Week

SYLLABUS WEEK used to be that you come to class, do some ice breakers and listen to what is expected of you for the rest of the semester. But those days are long gone. For whatever reason, some instructors are now dishing out homework on the first, second, or third day of classes. And that’s just insane!

Syllabus week has been rough, too. One homework here, some over there, and another one in my backpack. Why are professors so insensitive?! Have they forgotten that we have other responsibilities?! 

I had one professor say to me; “If you’re taking more than 15 credited classes, you better do yourself a favor and drop this class because I am expecting a lot from you.” Though he was smiling when he said that, I don’t think he was joking. Another professor said to us that she’s planning on handing out challenging homework this semester because, last semester, students did the bare minimum.

If you’re handing out homework while students are just doing the bare minimum, then obviously dishing out more homework is not the answer. Perhaps, your students might be doing the bare minimum because they’re trying to find a balance between other responsibilities?

Refusing to acknowledge that homework is not the end-all-be-all, signifies that you are out of touch with your students. Also, that you admire your ego more than you value their well-being. Students are not simply soulless robots solving equations and crunching up numbers all day, we have other obligations, too! Majority of us are working, trying to navigate complicated relationships, and are involved in extracurricular activities.

I, for example, have 16 credits to worry about, an internship to complete, and a host of other responsibilities that are in constant need of my full attention. To the student like myself, it is ludicrous and insensitive to expect us to fully commit ourselves to more demanding assignments.

It may sound like I am indifferent to homework, but that’s not the case. Like most teachers, I agree that assigning homework to students gives us the opportunity to strengthen what we’ve already learned. Furthermore, I believe that homework – as an idea or as a practical tool of measurement – is absolutely essential because it encourages competition. This element of competition is what drives innovation and creativity. Without competition our schools and our lives would be dull and disinteresting.

So, you see, I don’t think that having homework is a bad thing, but what I think is that having too much of it, especially on the first, second, or third day of classes, can be discouraging and overwhelming. The introduction of syllabus week was meant to give us a snapshot of what the rest of our classes might look like. In other words, it’s a time to relax and to get to know the people who you might be spending the rest of the semester with. When we depart from this general school of thought, syllabus week not only becomes stressful but it also primes us to do the bare minimum.

Though doing the bare minimum or dropping a few classes sounds appealing right now, I will not do that. Rather, I’m going to hunker down and get all of my homework done because that’s just who I am. I love the challenge.

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Some Students Want MORE Protection Than City Dwellers

RECENTLY, UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO STUDENTS STAYING AT THE UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, which is not a part of the university, by the way, had their apartments broken into while they were having massive, three hundred persons-strong house parties. The perpetrators has stolen Xbox consoles, money, and social security cards. In addition to that, one student reported to the UB Spectrum newspaper that last year one of his friends was held up at gunpoint by two teenagers in the neighborhood.

First of all, I don’t think it makes any sense for students who are only staying at the university for a short period of time to seek protection from the community that they don’t know/or want to know anything about. Secondly, I don’t believe that students that are privileged to go to school and afford their parents to co-sign their leases should have more protection than the long-term residents of that particular community—-simply because they want to have overcrowded, probably underaged, and illegal drug-infested house parties.

When students complained about the incidents to the university police—nothing got done. Organically, one student took to Facebook to voice her frustrations, while others requested that the university police should patrol their neighborhoods, twenty-four seven. In other words, the university police officers should patrol the community as they have they’re overcrowded, probably underaged, and illegal drug-infested house parties. Does that make sense? Moreover, to do something of that magnitude would require the delicate collaboration of the university police and the city police—whom, by the way, are “severely understaffed.” Neither side has the budget, manpower, or even time to carry out such a trivial operation.

Eventually, the university police simply replied by stating that they were aware of the matter but reassured the students that—compared to other serious crimes happening in the city—the university was a “very safe environment.” Naturally, I can see how such incidents can make students or anyone else feel unsafe. However, we must keep in mind that these “crimes” are isolated contingencies. And in fact, it seems to me that these “crimes” only happen when students are having they’re overcrowded, probably underaged, and illegal drug-infested house parties.

Now then, instead of complaining I think the best approach would be to create something that would enable students to engage with the community—to really be curious to why residents are breaking into apartments for minor items. Maybe students might discover that resident are breaking into their apartments because they’ve been long-term residents of a community that has pushed them to the wayside—just to make room for temporary college students who seems to not offer anything good for the community but house parties. Also, and like the article suggested, students need to push for their landlords to do more about break-ins than both the university and city police—that are understaffed and have other serious and important matters to attend to.

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