May I say this? I don’t mean to boast, but I am so proud of my fellow VU Times bloggers. All of these posts tackle interesting subjects, are well-written and well-thought out. This one, in all likelihood, will adhere to none of these precedents. This is a rant, my friends. A full-on, WWF smackdown.
Anyone reading this blog has probably experienced the hell that is Tolentine Hall. Granted, it looks like Hogwarts. It’s somewhat amazing in its antiquity, in the uniqueness of its architecture; walking through its halls evokes the feeling of exploring my late grandmother’s keepsake chest. One is transported to another era, another time period. An era in which elevators did not exist. A time period in which buildings were asymmetrical and not all flights of stairs reach the top floor.
I had plenty of time to contemplate these feelings as I climbed the stairs to the fourth floor early this morning. My first class of the day, of the semester, really, was located in Room 426. It’s quite a hike for anyone, and especially so for someone dealing with the late-night screams, giggles, and drunken catcalls that embody sorority pledge week. And so, bleary-eyed, I climbed. Past the Mezzanine, up three more flights. I was early, as were the majority of my classmates. We shuffled into the room, some eying each other hesitantly, others embracing in happy recognition. Seats were found, mostly within the back rows. The desks filled quickly, accommodating at least thirty students. The desk in the front of the room, however, remained empty.
And so we waited. We sat, making small talk among our peers, everyone having the same conversation: Hi! How was break? So short, I know. Did you rush? What sorority? Do you think he’s going to show up? Thirty pairs of eyes darted repeatedly to the door, waiting for the unseen professor.
People checked their watches, their phones. An exodus of text messages flew from Room 426. Some pulled out newspapers, some looked over the syllabus, reassuring themselves that Philosophy 1050 was, indeed, in this room. Most sat, blank stares upon their faces. Occasionally, the door flew open, causing a flurry of raised, anticipatory heads, heads that fell as each opening produced only another harried student, rushing to find a seat.
Fifteen minutes passed. The girl beside me stood, announcing I’m leaving to no one in particular before striding out of the room. We looked at each other, questioning our own presence in the professor-bereft room. Some stood, following the girl. Others sat in their chairs, their presence almost an act of defiance. I will meet this professor today. I will be the one to stay. The room hummed with muted conversation. I sat in my seat, reading the paper, checking my watch.
Another five minutes passed. Others stood up, having met their personal quotas of patience. I looked around the room. Few students remained, mostly girls, scattered throughout the classroom. The morning sun streamed through the dusty windows, shining into Room 426. The newspaper, finished, sat on my desk, a pathetic testament to re-folding attempts. I fidgeted, swirling the dregs of coffee around in my cup. I am not a patient person. My watch read twenty-two after, my phone twenty-four. I didn’t know which was right. I didn’t care. Turning to my left, I asked the girls beside me how long they intended to stay. Till he shows up, they replied, eyebrows raised. I raised my own in return, and, placing my paper in my bag, stood up and walked out.
I understand that professors have lives outside of the classroom, or in this case, outside of Room 426. Things come up; emergencies arise, children fall sick, fender-benders pop up– especially on Lancaster Avenue. However, I, like every other student here, is paying for each class I attend (or don’t attend). I will be paying for them long past graduation, longer than I care to think about. This, obviously, doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a cancelled class; cancellations are like Christmas and my birthday combined, but better. Cancelled classes are like having hotels on Park Place and Boardwalk. You can’t lose.
It’s rare, however, that I skip class. Sometimes, of course, it’s unavoidable. It would just be rude to give others my germs when they exceed the control of Sudafed and DayQuill. This was the first time in my (albeit short) college career that a professor has so blatantly missed class. I rushed to check my email after my assertive departure, looking for an apologetic email from the professor. I found no such thing.
It would be one thing to miss class in March, when the reputation of the professor is established and class expectations are known. However, missing the first day of class can easily be construed as sheer irresponsibility, even disrespect. I am sure my classmates, while joyful at the opportunity to skip yet another syllabus review session, agree.
I am sure my professor has a perfectly legitimate excuse. I can’t wait to hear it. Unfortunately, he’s going to have to introduce himself before he delivers it, because I still have no idea what he looks like.