“To crash, perchance to add. And in that adding, score units. So one fine day, I may, get the fuck out of this impacted school.” –D2
Girvetz 2116 is a stuffy little classroom crammed with the bodies of over 50 students waiting for Modern Literature professor Enda Duffy. The desks are filled, and crashers sit Indian style on the floor while more plug up the doorway like cholesterol. Random heads peek in from time to time. They scan the packed room and sulk away, consulting the Spring course catalog. This is no crash for the light-hearted.
Professor Duffy is pleased by the turnout for his small class. “Am I grading too lightly? [classic Duffy Irish chuckle] Someone take a picture of this and keep it for my review.” People laugh along with Duffy – sourpusses don’t get add codes. Duffy tells everyone that he appealed to the English Dept. for a larger room and was denied. It’s not his fault. “I’d like to teach you all. Are all the English classes like this?”
The girls in the front row lament, “Yes Duffy! They’re all crowded!” Their batting eyes plead “add code, add code,” but Duffy turns away. He apologizes and tells the seniors they won’t have seniority, that he’ll do what he can and that it’s a good idea to go over to the English Dept. and make a stink about the impacted classes.
A few students leave to go haggle with the English Dept. receptionist, but that’s a ruse. The English Dept. receptionist can’t do anything, you might as well be yelling at tree. Instead I pull out my notebook and eye the other seasoned crashers doing the same. It’s time to write the quintessential crash letter:
My name is David Downs and I received an “A” in your engrossing honors British lit. class last quarter. I have been diagnosed with a fatal heart murmur and this will be my last quarter attending UCSB. I value my last four classes at this college highly and wish to spend some of my little time left with you … ”
And on it goes. Lie on top of lie. It doesn’t matter what you say. The key is to be more creative and memorable than the other treacherous crashers around you. It’s not like a professor would ever risk being a massively insensitive asshole by saying, “You don’t really have a heart murmur.”
I used to get all incensed as a freshman when I came to a class I was paying thousands of dollars to attend, and there wasn’t a desk left. Over time I’ve learned that overfilled classes – like casual sex and Marxism – are an integral part of the college experience. UCSB’s crackerjack team of statisticians can’t predict how many sorostitutes will take Comm. 1 in any given quarter, let alone the academic preferences of 20,000. The consumer will always be screwed, and this is a lesson best learned young.
I have a solution to impacted classes, but it is too simple, practical and cheap to be implemented on campus. It stems from the unspoken fact that in 90 percent of the humanities classes, the professor spends most lectures explaining the assigned reading to students too lazy or slow to glean the main points from the books. Rarely do they synthesize something new from the texts or even offer their true feelings. Classes offering A.S. notes further eliminate the need to be a warm body in a crowded room. A good Letters and Science rule of thumb is “do the reading, attend lecture, but only morons need to do both all the time.”
With this in mind, I say we add another class option in addition to “pass/no pass.” We shall call it taking a course “syllabus/lecture.” Sign up for “syllabus” and you aren’t required to attend lecture or sections, only do the reading properly and drop in if something is really confusing. Sign up for lecture and the professor will hold your hand and walk you through the nuances of what “interpersonal communication” means. With a “syllabus/lecture” option, classes can be full with additional hundred students at home doing the reading that that the professor is spelling out for the class.
It won’t solve all our impact problems, but it’s better than making up new diseases every quarter.
Daily Friday editor David Downs says, “The first and second passes are for little pansies.” His column runs every Wednesday.