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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Help with staying ahead in class

Published: October 31, 2014
Section: Opinions

Dear Eliana,
I went to a party the other weekend and met this girl. We exchanged numbers, but in my drunken stupor, I never wrote her name in the contact, so I really don’t know who she is. We’ve been texting, and I’ve been able to refrain from having to mentioning her name ever, but I would like to get to know her more. And knowing her name would be a good start. Should I just flat out ask her what her name is? Do I risk her getting upset about it and never talking to me again? Or is there some other way I can figure out her name without her finding out I never knew it in the first place?

Dear Sloppy,
Well that’s awkward, isn’t it? You definitely could tell her the truth about being too drunk to remember that minor detail. It’s probably the easier path. However, if you have been texting for a while already, it might be a little late to do that. If you think it seems kind of weird to ask her at this point, it’s very possible that a friend remembers her from the party, or that someone you know has met her. Try asking around and see if someone knows her. Go through people’s Facebook profiles and see if she pops up in any pictures. Another option is to ask her how her name is spelled and hope it’s not a name like Sue. If it is, tell her you meant her last name and hope that one’s not something like Smith. Or as a last resort, come up with a cute nickname for her and call her that for the rest of your relationship.

Dear Eliana,
So I failed a midterm, and it was in a required course for my (intended) major. Now, I’m worried that I won’t pass the class and would need to either take it again or just pick a new major, which I’ve already started thinking about. I haven’t declared anything yet, but I’m really into HSSP and don’t particularly like quitting things. But this is a foundational course, so I think this experience will be repeated. What do you think? Should I give up so easily, or try again next semester?

Dear Failing,
Do not give up too quickly. Firstly, failing one midterm does not necessarily mean you failed the class. If you talk to your professor and work hard the rest of the semester, you might still be able to pass. If you did in fact fail completely, talk to your academic advisor and see what your options are. If HSSP is something you’re really interested in, it’s worth it to work for the major. You could also start working on another major as a backup. Do what you can to get back on track, but at the same time, don’t let it hold you back from pursuing something else that might turn out to be a better fit for you. You can do this!

Dear Eliana,
I’m taking this anthropology class on gender because it fit into the rest of my schedule and I really like the professor. The problem is the class is made mostly of women and, being a guy, I’m a little nervous speaking up in class on somewhat sensitive topics. I’ve been able to participate now and then, but I’m worried that I might say the wrong thing because I don’t know what the right thing to say is sometimes. I’m worried this will upset the rest of the class and everyone will judge me on something I’m not too familiar with. How can I get over this fear? And how can I frame my questions and comments in a way that won’t offend anyone?

Dear Frazzled,
The trick is good judgment. If you have a comment about a sensitive topic, think about it first from the perspective of the opposite side, and then decide if it is going to offend someone (this works for controversial topics other than gender as well). If it is, don’t say it. Keep in mind that in your case, you are offering a unique perspective. In a class full of women, you can add some views that they might not have thought about. You can also ask questions and learn about the sensitive topics so that you can be informed in the future. If you are still worried, talk to the professor and see what she thinks about this. She probably doesn’t want one of her students being afraid to talk in class. You seem like a decent person who doesn’t want to offend people, so you probably won’t. But it’s always smart think before you speak.

Dear Readers,
If you can’t already tell, this is an advice column, and I’m here to help you with any questions that you might have! If you want more exciting questions, send them in, and I will do my best to answer them. Whether it’s relationships, social problems or just life in general—send them here. I can’t wait to start hearing about everyone’s problems. Send questions to Thanks!