25 June 2010

Is everyone comfortable?

It's orientation day at the tiny university at which I'm currently employed. This year must be some sort of nautical theme -- as orientations are increasingly nothing more than marketing events shaped to draw the "customers" in, like all the agricultural detritus found on the walls of a Cracker Barrel -- because all the students working the orientation were wearing sailor caps.

No pirates were in sight, nor did I spot a cop, construction worker, Indian, cowboy, or leather man.

The campus bookstore, of course, was open, selling its collection of branded swag to prospective students and parents alike. Like many campus bookstores, this one sells very few books, with even the course textbook area being relegated to the back corner of the store. That section probably occupies about 1/6th the area of the store, with the other 5/6ths containing a large selection of clothing, coffee mugs, keychains, candy, and -- like the inedible sandwiches on the tables in Harry Hope's bar in The Iceman Cometh -- a few popular novels and magazines.

Other than the free lunch being provided to parents and incoming students alike, I didn't see any other actual activities of orientation, but I assume they involved a tour of the nicer buildings on campus: one dorm recently received new furniture and was probably showcased, the athletics center dates from the 1990's and is very nice for a school our size, the library is even more recent and again is a gem for a school our size, and a new classroom/office building sits in the center of campus.

They'll most likely avoid the building I work in, which is the original campus building and shows the haphazard upgrades that correspond to a university that for much of its life struggled to make the most of its space with less than abundant resources: mismatched carpet, cracked tile floors, classrooms with chairs packed so tightly the instructor finds him or herself pushed into a corner near exposed plumbing, etc. In other words, a building that doesn't look good in a college catalog but will in fact be the building that most of their classes are in.

Well, I wish them all success and hopefully we'll have a good enrollment and maybe they'll hire a new line in English (not holding my breath).

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