If I May: 10 Things I Like and/or Don’t Like
Issue   |   Tue, 11/28/2017 - 23:26

This week, I’ve decided to try something new. Normally, my column focuses on one issue (and perhaps a small discussion of its broader context). However, as the title suggests, this week I will instead briefly share my opinions (whether positive or negative) on ten things (of varying degrees of importance and relevance). This structure is inspired (read: pretty much stolen) from the brilliant ESPN basketball writer Zach Lowe. I chose it for a few reasons. One; it is a cool, potentially eye-catching style choice. Two; for me, it is much easier to write a little bit about a lot of things that a lot about one thing. Three; going along with two, my editor told me that my column had to be “a little longer” because “you are so, so talented that we want the whole newspaper to be written by you.” [Editor’s Note: We did not say that.]

1. The Reading Load at Amherst
Simply put, I believe that we are assigned too much reading at this college. Classes can have hundreds of pages of reading assigned per week, and professors often expect that students will closely read every page, knowing full well that we all carry a difficult course load and often a busy extracurricular schedule. Granted, I am a history major, and almost all the classes I take are humanities classes, so one could argue that I am doing this to myself. However, Amherst has an open curriculum, so in my mind that should mean that any combination of four classes should be a reasonable amount of work for any given semester. Of course, some classes will be harder and have a heavier workload than others, but to me, even if a student takes four difficult classes, the workload should be manageable. In my experience, when I’m assigned too much reading I skim all of it to make sure I can prove to my professors that I’ve done my work, rather than actually engaging with the material. I think that if the reading load was decreased, students would be able to more actively and meaningfully engage with the material that they would have time to read and wrestle with.

2. My Professors
While I may think that some assign too much reading, I am so thankful for my professors this semester. I know that many students here have had unpleasant experiences with many professors. There is no denying that there are some incredibly problematic members of the faculty here at Amherst. Perhaps that can be the subject of a later column. In this case, though, I have lucked into having five wonderful professors for this semester (one of my classes is co-taught). Each of them are of course brilliant thinkers, both about the material itself, but also (and more crucially) about how to effectively relay knowledge and insight onto their students. Furthermore, they all care deeply about their students, both in terms of academic success and general well-being. I write this to point out that perhaps not all the instructors here are wonderful, but there are certainly many who truly embody the type of professor that I imagined before I arrived on campus. (Hit me up for recommendations if you want!)

3. The Fact that the New York Knicks Aren’t That Bad, But Also Aren’t Good
My editor told me I wasn’t allowed to write about sports. My editor also told me that I needed to write a longer column this week. So, I’m going to BRIEFLY (okay!?) write about sports. My favorite basketball team (and overall favorite sports team) is the New York Knicks. I was born in 1996, and I’ve been a fan basically since birth (my father is an absolute die-hard Knicks fan). I have been alive for 21 years. The Knicks have pretty much sucked that entire time. This year, before the season, we traded away Carmelo Anthony, our best player since 2011. This set the stage for a year of rebuilding, where we would not be very good but hopefully get a good draft pick. In a twist of fate, our draft pick from two years ago, Kristaps Porzingis, has turned out to be one of the most promising young talents in the league. This is extremely exciting. However, the problem is that we are now too good to tank. It is very frustrating because we are probably going to win the exact amount of games that will both keep us from a good pick in the draft and keep us out of the playoffs. God, the Knicks can’t even tank correctly. Okay, I’ll stop talking about sports now.

4. The Library Staff
We are very lucky to have such a wonderful library staff at this college. Everyone who works in Frost seems to have the utmost desire to make students’ lives as easy as possible. If you have not taken advantage of the Reference Desk or the Archives yet, I strongly urge you to do so. Even if you don’t need help, introduce yourself and tell them about what you’re interested in studying. They will undoubtedly have worthwhile insight and advice for you, whether it is about how to effectively use the libraries resources or what materials you should look to for more insight.

5. Those Curved Stairs By Keefe
Why can’t they go straight up the hill like they used to? Why do they have to curve? It makes no sense. Every time I see it, I get a little angry.

6. Twitter
People have been knocking Twitter a lot lately, and I can totally understand why. It is often a cesspool of so-called “hot takes” or just an echo chamber where you only hear what you want to hear. However, I still love Twitter. It is always fun to see what celebrities, athletes and political commentators are writing themselves, without the façade of a publicist, post-game interview or television program. Furthermore, for me and many others, it is a great place to express oneself creatively. Any person, no matter how well-known, can craft a funny tweet that can go viral. (I’m still waiting for one of mine to get more than two retweets. It’ll happen.)

7. “The Good Place” (Which is a TV Show, If You Didn’t Know)
If you are not watching “The Good Place” on NBC, you should be. It stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, and was created by Michael Schur, the same person behind Parks and Recreation. The show centers around Kristen Bell’s character ascending to ‘The Good Place” after she passes away. I don’t want to say much more, because I want to avoid spoilers, but “The Good Place” is truly a wonderful show. It is of course hilarious, but it also does not dwell on plot points like many sitcoms. Rather, it moves quickly through plots and premises, keeping each episode fresh.

8. “The Newsroom” (Was an HBO Show, Thank God It’s No Longer On)
“The Newsroom” was an HBO show written by Aaron Sorkin. This show was horrible. Do not watch this show. It is incredibly preachy, with Sorkin taking it as an opportunity to espouse his political and social beliefs. Sure, some of them I agree with, but even those manage to be presented in such a pompous and pretentious way that they are equally indigestible. Furthermore, while the show claims to be progressive, the female characters are all presented in a way that makes their identities seem completely attached to the men they work with. It is simply an awful show. I have also seen every episode.

9. The TV Thing in Val
I mean, it’s cool, I guess? The photos look great, that’s for sure. The whole thing just looks very expensive. Why did the college spend money on it? We all know what Amherst looks like already; we didn’t need a montage of photos to realize that our campus looks beautiful when it is sunny outside. Whatever. It’s cool, I guess.

10. Checking My Mailbox
It is exciting to get mail no matter what it is. Everyone should start sending handwritten letters again. Someone please send me a letter. I love mail.