How to succeed at Lawrence without really trying

Peter Gillette

Welcome to Lawrence.

•Save your course catalogs. In a year or two the requirements will be completely different, and you’ll find yourself here for year number six because a course you took actually didn’t satisfy the Global Education requirement, which requires the cross-listed religious/gender studies/culinary arts interdisciplinary course that also, coincidentally enough, cross-lists at Fox Valley Tech. That’s a heck of a reason not to graduate.

•After that, though, there’s lots of stuff you can throw away. Only keep things like A) course syllabi, B) course catalogs, C) things about money that your mommy and/or daddy aren’t also receiving, and D) things with coupons attached. Your wastebaskets will be filled next June with welcomes from RHDs, Deans, Counseling Services, Computer Services, Food Services, and…

•Make sure you wake up the day of registration and get there at 9:10 at the latest. You would be surprised how many students also want to take Lit. Analysis.

•After you sign up for your classes, go to them. When the teachers tell you what books to read, read them. When papers are due on those books, write them. After you’ve written them, fix them. And then have a good time. I remember towards the end of Wayne’s World II”(one of my favorite movies) Wayne talks to the ghost of Jim Morrison about “getting all your homework done on Friday night so you can party on all weekend.”

•During the next few weeks on one of those Friday nights somebody will be very clever and original and fill the fountain (between Wriston and the Library) with soapsuds or Jell-o. It will be probably be funny the first couple times.

•Speaking of a good laugh, never take for granted how smart your President (Warch, that is) is. He delivers the first convocation and introduces all the other convocation speakers. If you ever have trouble staying awake during one of these, bring a pen with you and keep a running tally of the historical, literary, or cultural allusions or quotes he used. I was very sleepy before the last introduction he gave, but still managed to tally 49 references of some sort or another during the introduction. Smart people run Lawrence.

•Try to understand that Physical Plant, Residence Life, the Administration, and all of the other Capitol Letter Abstractions that we love to gripe about actually try their best to make school good for you. So complain, but understand, and don’t personalize things. Perhaps this is ironic coming from The Lawrentian’s Editorials editor.

•Erb’s and Gerb’s is really tasty, Hunan’s and Taste of Thai are, too, but that can get awfully expensive really fast. Lucinda’s is really tasty too. Downer makes great fries. Then again, steak fries are my favorite food.

•Oh, and seriously, the buses are very easy to ride. But if you want groceries quick, down Lawe Street (away from the bridge) a few blocks there’s a nice little market. So that covers eating.

•As for drinking, just remember that Wisconsin’s drinking age is 21, courtesy of then-Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole. Thanks, Elizabeth Dole.

•With every bit of determination in you, resist the temptation to use the word “sketchy.” I’ve only been here for a year, but I can’t for the life of me remove it from my vocabulary.

•Lawrence students are often very political, but if you want anybody to listen to you, try to say something you don’t hear others saying in a way that’s not being said. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s mustard. But if there are two things that I hate they are mustard and people who argue without listening or trying to understand the other side. Neither the Right nor the Left monopolizes the truth, and the day one or the other does…Well, that’s the day when soapsuds in the fountain is the least of our nation’s problems.

•Speaking of our nation’s problems, you may or may not know that you live in something called “the Lawrence Bubble,” where the “real world” doesn’t much enter into your life. That’s not all a bad thing. Sometimes it’s hard to write a paper on problems that already happened when you have to spend a long time worrying about what’s going on in Iraq.

•But to stay informed, remember that you are paying for The New York Times, The Lawrentian, and The Chicago Tribune. The One Minute Left also began last year and is a welcome addition to the campus as a forum for political discussion and vessel for “consciousness-raising.” If you have an opinion, thought, or feeling about anything, never be afraid to get involved. Or don’t get involved. It’s all up to you.

•If you are a Connie, go to at least one LU sports event each term. Get off your music high horse. If you are a college kid, go to at least one concert. They’ve worked hard enough.

•Go to Bjorklunden whenever you can. Trust me. At least, just get off campus. You’ll be glad you did.