Valentine: Starting over

Robert Valentine Senior lecturer in advertising

And so we have come to the end of what must be, for most of us, a hectic and confusing week.

After finally hitting our stride as students and teachers, Mother Nature pulled the plug on the whole beautiful scheme by dumping tons of snow where it had no business being. As the dedicated facilities crews clear roadways and walkways, dry out soaked carpets and replace broken equipment which was never built for service in Antarctica, the rest of us are trying to figure out what comes next.

Some professors are going to ask you to step up to the challenge and cram two weeks of lectures, reading and discussion into one week. Of course, you can do this, but is seems somehow unnatural.

Other instructors will throw their well-planned syllabus and schedule into the metaphorical shredder and look for things to drop. It’s hard to imagine a history professor suggesting that “We can skip the American Civil War, since most of us have seen “Gettysburg,” and it was pretty much like that for four years.” If things could be easily discarded, how did they get on the list of things to discuss in the first place?

So, no matter who you are or what you are studying, get ready to cope with  changes in the pace or content of class. At the same time, the annual Spring Formal won’t change its dates (deposits have been sent) campus elections haven’t moved on the calendar, All Campus Sing will begin as scheduled just as surely as the Spring equinox arrives in March and, in the middle of it all, the Racers are headed to the OVC tournament.

Most of us probably wish things were not as they are. We long for President Bob Davies to declare an amnesty of some sort, or develop a solution that won’t require any more work from us. After all, we didn’t make it snow, did we? That was the Weather Channel or Al Gore, I’m pretty sure.

But, in fact, all the adjustments will have to be made by us: students and faculty alike. Some of us will have to re-write lectures, alter assignments and reschedule tests. The rest of us will have to prepare for those tests and cram in two assignments where only one was supposed to be. When you write it all out like that, it makes college sound like work instead of one long, uninterrupted social extravaganza. Go figure.

No amount of wishing will change our new and inconvenient reality. The great American tennis pro, Arthur Ashe, put is best when he said, “Start where you are; use what you have; do what you can.”

That’s all we can do. Don’t wait for some mystical form of relief, because it’s not coming. Don’t hope for resources that don’t exist or for shortcuts that will make things easy.

When seven days of your life evaporate like snow on a well-salted sidewalk, it’s going to take effort from someone. Guess who.

And so we will get tough, postpone the weekly beer tasting with the ol’ gang, and knock out an extra assignment before tucking ourselves into beddy bye at 1 a.m.

We will try to get up early enough to get a decent parking spot (just kidding) and be on time for the professor’s reconstituted lecture which covers only three of the 25 causes of World War II.

Some of us will even skip the road trip to the OVC Tournament in order to get a higher grade on the test that should have happened last week, but now will inconveniently hit just before the Racers meet UK in some NCAA bracket. (Sigh)

Sometimes, the easiest way out is to take the hardest road forward.

“Start where you are; use what you have; do what you can.”

Column by Robert Valentine, Senior lecturer of advertising