These are a few of my favorite things

Years of being a student at PSU can make one really disappointed in the processing of higher education. Year after year, everything seems to cost more, classes grow to the point of saturation and the professors’ moods seem dourer in the face of a life of infinite jest in adjunct-land (as unpredictable as Disneyland in a rainstorm). Yet, in my last year here at PSU, a few small things really made me believe that student lifestyles do not always have to be so burdened with the unpredictability and aggravation of Oregon education.

Student Recreation

Who knows how it happened or who it should be attributed to (though I did try to find out), but the overhaul of student recreation at the Stott Center is worthy of the highest praise. Year after year, I would show up to participate in some event to be met with only quizzical looks and certainly not the jockish backslap I was hoping for. Plagued in past years by disinformation, posted signs leading you nowhere and “clubs” that only existed in students’ fantasies, student recreation this year is fairly organized, looking ahead to a new home and expanding the Flexible Fitness program. It is not without some problems: Yoga classes were canceled in Flex Fitness with no notice, producing some disappointed novice yogis. Overall, though, the fliers are on target, the hours are expanding slowly, and the bulletin boards actually contain useful and usable information. And then, of course, there is the rock wall. PSU’s holy wall that took years to build is finally open for business and only requires reasonable usage fees ($5 per use/$30 per term). Supporting student recreation now guarantees that there will be a ball to bounce tomorrow. Go.

University Studies Student Advisory Council

Ten years and thousands of students later, University Studies is creating an advisory council of students who will represent their peers in the administrative, curricular and extracurricular dealings of a general studies program that is finally getting its due. The opportunity to serve on an educational council should not be passed up by any academically motivated student in the program. The architect of this important group, peer mentor Beth Kaufka, recently told me (I also serve as a peer mentor) that the Student Advisory Council (SAC) would work on “systemic issues of general education” and would provide all students, via the SAC, “more access to policy and the structural side of University Studies.” As UNST gains more recognition nationally and internationally as a model for student-based learning, it is only appropriate that students have access to the “hardware” of the program. This, again, will put UNST at the forefront of healthy pedagogy and allow students to organize around the issues that concern them the most. Nominations are due Nov. 21 in Cramer Hall, Room 163.

Food for Thought Open Mic

Okay, so it was a weirdo cover of a John Mayer song, but I literally almost choked on my tofu sandwich it was so good. The Food for Thought Caf퀌� (the organic, sustainable-practice caf퀌� in the basement of Smith Center) has hosted an open microphone since late last school year. I wish I could go more often, because the majority of participants, so far, have been completely, unabashedly honest and without a trace of the usual hipster’s all-consuming irony. Any recent performance would surely wipe skeptical smirks from the most cynical Viking. I hope there is more, and I hope FFT advertises it better as well. My only disappointment: Where are the ladies and others? I know they have voices and guitars … drums … two spoons and a knife fashioned into an instrument. I only wish that I were brave enough to take the microphone and sing my mournful cover of Stevie Nicks’ “Landslide.” Meanwhile, I will nosh on the divine and wonder: Was he singing that my body was a wonderland?