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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

BERKENWALD: Brandeis only sucks as much as you want it to

Published: March 11, 2005
Section: Opinions

We finally have the data to prove what we Brandeisians have known all along: this place kind of sucks. Brandeis was ranked by the Princeton Review to have the fourth unhappiest students in the U.S. And I bet our administrators are asking themselves, Where did we go wrong? Now, dont get me wrong. I am glad I go to Brandeis, and there are many things about it I like. I love the academics. I love that bad professors are rare, that classes are challenging and interesting, and our awesome reputation for hard work. Every student here knows we work harder than those brats at Harvard do. And we dont have grade inflation either! So, are we unhappy because were working too hard? Not necessarily.

Even though the average Brandeis student spends a good portion of each day working, being overworked is your own choice. If you take 5 classes or maybe too many labs, it can certainly happen. But it doesnt have to. Also, if you choose to participate in too many time consuming clubs, it can happen. But it is still a choice. (Sidenote: Can we please get a theater group on campus that puts maybe one show a year and doesnt have to rehearse for 12 hours a day?) Regardless, I dont think the academics are making us unhappy at Brandeis.

If anything, they give us a sense or pride and accomplishment even if its only to say, Im not failing out of Brandeis! Which holds a lot more weight than, Im not failing out of oh I dont know Framingham State. To be honest, I dont think the problem has to do with a lack of fun events either. And I really dont think it has to do with a lack of a hardcore party scene. We have Brandeis-style parties. They are fun, as long as you can get at least an hour in before they get broken up.

In my opinion, the problem is with the many, many annoyances we have to put up with each day. The first, most obvious, and possibly most important of these, is food. We all know dining services is run by Aramark and not Brandeis, but it is still our digestive systems on the line here and if it sucks, I dont care what anyone says, its Brandeiss fault. They know we hate it;

they need to make a change, and a drastic one.

Never mind food quality (not going there), the hours of the dining halls have to change. People live here every day. And yes, people get hungry on Friday nights. Can someone tell me why I am denied food on Friday nights? As far as I know, Shabbat doesnt involve fasting. And okay, food quality. (Yes, I am going there.) IT BLOWS! Is it at all possible to buy meat that hasnt fallen off some truck somewhere? Lettuce that is still fresh? Fruit that is ripe? Cheese that isnt fluorescent orange? And please, please, please start making food that actually tastes good! We need more variety. The salad bars and parfait station in the Boulevard and Usdan are a good start, but we want more! And the last aggravation to do with dining halls is the pricing.

We should be able to get a drink with our food and not have the price go over the price of a meal. It is just logical. And yes, weve all been told that the prices are high because we steal trays and silverware. But I have some news for you: we steal tray and silverware because we hate Aramark! And telling us it is our fault wont help. No one believes prices will actually go down if they stop stealing. Okay. Annoyance number two. Midterms. Why are midterms a season instead of a short period? Why do most of my classes have more than one midterm? Midterms should be more like finals and less like a way of life.

They should be in the space of two, maybe even three weeks. Not the entire stretch of time between February break and finals! Cant the stress period be confined? So we can plan around it? So we wont get burnt out after an entire month of exams and papers one after another? And finally, the third annoyance is housing. One that is especially difficult right now. First of all, why do we always have to deal with housing, midterms, and pretty soon registration, all at the same time? Its a little too much.

But really. How can you expect us to be happy, especially right now, when a significant percentage of us are being forced into homelessness? And an even bigger percentage of us are being forced into housing situations we dont want ( lucky to get housing at all) that will only make us more unhappy next year. Just give us a place to live! We need enough housing so no one has to rely on someone elses number and someone elses preference. No one should have to lose friends because of housing drama.

That being said, I dont think Brandeis students are really all that unhappy. Yes, we complain. A lot. Case in point: this article. But most of us arent that unhappy. Happiness depends on our friends and our personal self esteem, things the school has no control over. But regardless of the reasons, Brandeis could do to improve a few things here on campus. And while it may not guarantee happiness, its certainly a start. The rest, unfortunately, is up to us. The more we complain, the worse reputation Brandeis will get, the more money it will lose, and the worse life here will actually become. Its time to stop complaining and start doing.