Weathering the Storm

by John Strayer | 5/16/96 5:00am

They really should offer a class on how to manipulate the Dartmouth Plan. I feel like I stumbled blindly into my enrollment pattern. The result of my naivete is that I have spent five miserable winters here in Hanover.

Five winters in four years? Well I consider this term my fifth winter term. A friend of mine who grew up in this area recently commented that this is the worst New England spring he has ever experienced.

If I had a chance to do it all over again, I'd find a way to be off every winter term. What was I thinking?

It's really remarkable how much we talk about the weather. I bet if you took a sample of conversations you'd find that we talk about it more than anything else.

And yet the role of weather gets no respect in the academic community. It's completely left out of history. When the Founding Fathers held the Continental Congresses, was it nice and sunny or was it cold and wet? I'll bet you'd find that the colonists were a lot more optimistic about their chances when the sun was shining.

Let's bring weather into the focus it deserves by replacing the Education Department with a Weather Studies Department. Professors in this department could do valuable research into the role of weather in history and in our day-to-day lives.

But alas, such a change will come too late for the Class of 1996, which is unfortunate, because we have been a class particularly screwed by the weather.

Our Sophomore Summer was cold and rainy. It was 50 degrees and raining on Tubestock. And then look at this miserable excuse for a Senior Spring.

It's been awful, my fifth winter. If spring wasn't so beautiful when it finally gets here we would never forgive the gods for making it come so late.

But this year it looks like it may never come for good. We've had a couple of spurts of nice weather and that's been it.

This is hitting the senior class especially hard. We are already prone to brood anxiously about our futures; this weather makes it all that much worse.

If you doubt the role played by the weather, look at your transcript; many of you will notice a significant grade decline during Winter term.

But I'd feel like a big dork going into a professor and saying, "Uh, see, I can't write this paper because it's raining all the time."

Which is why we really need a Weather Studies Department. Academics are all essentially snobs. But once you bring something into the fold of academia, it becomes legitimate and is rarely questioned.

The study of formal logic is a good example. It is a requirement (I'm stretching the truth a tiny bit here) in the Philosophy Department. But as someone who got a C+ in formal logic I can testify to the fact that only a cursory understanding is necessary for the rest of the major.

Does anyone think twice about this requirement? No, it is an established field in academia. Meanwhile, academics look down there noses at education because it is "vocational." If they are set to kill the Education Department then let's give weather studies a chance.

Then I'd be able to say to my professors, "Look, there's a prof in the Weather Department who says it is quite unreasonable for you to expect a paper from me at this time. I mean look outside, man!"

But without this legitimation I am left to wander through my senior spring as a basket case, feeling guilty that I am completely neglecting my classes, but unable to concentrate for longer than fifteen minutes.

All those miserable winters were partially my fault. I could have manipulated the D-Plan to avoid those disasters. But you are required to be here for your senior spring. I couldn't have avoided this debacle if I tried. "Spring," what a tragic misnomer for this term.

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