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Death By Zeitgeist My Shitty Term

By Devdoot Majumdar
CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

You’d think that it’d be enough that you avoid classes that teach in 54-100 and 10-250. Not that you’d attend them anyway, but that should be a good enough metric to prevent you from overhearing the stuff of freshmen conversations: experimentation with afros, experimentation with self-esteem, and of course, experimentation with Mr. Johnson. And yet, right now, I find myself at the epicenter of everything I’ve ever strived to avoid, and I do it because I have to graduate.

I’m sitting at a giant circular table, akin to the kind you’d expect from the whole elementary school experience. Across from me sits the best example of undiagnosed ADD in the world, a chatty young man whose attempts at facial hair might just round him up one of those fine, young MIT damsels. And my other neighbors include a former IFC Rush Chair, a quiet girl who follows the lectures studiously, and a Sigma Nu depledge who gets his learn on like it’s his birthday.

This is 8.02 Teal. This is the class that is unskippable. My TA’s are perky sophomores and my only joy in class is generating errors on the Personal Response System.

Long story short, I never failed out of 8.02 four years ago (pride issue) -- I just always figured that there would eventually be a time when I could take that advanced standing exam and get out of this. But here I am, on my last lap towards graduation, in the tail end of a 25-minute mile of an undergraduate education. I have three PE’s left, a swim test, some library fines, and two HASS-D’s which I am more regularly attending after an e-mail from an ebullient TA.

The PE situation is even more dreary. I’ve dabbled in (and sauntered out of) several PE’s over the years: archery, tennis, group cycling, and yoga. Now, if I hope to get my chance to hear the NIH director speak in June, I’d better get my act together.

It’s at moments like these that I like to recall the words of the great John Mayer. He once told MTV-U, “You have to treat yourself like a business. Nobody is going to wake you up in the morning and say ‘go play music,’ you’ve got to set your alarm. You’re your own boss -- you work in the mailroom and you’re the C.E.O.”

And there you go. If you can’t get The Rock or Stephen R. Covey to bring you your daily inspiration, you might as well get it from MTV. That is why we vote, after all.

For the time being, the only thing that interests me are the few social maelstroms that life affords. It’s never a rarity at MIT to go through the motions for a term. Even though someone’s paying a hearty $36,000, few things can cure a dreary term. I contend that it all comes down to your professors.

I’ve always admired professors at big state schools who take on the challenge of keeping 500 kids awake for an hour. Takes a bit of humor (keep working at it Professor Jerrison, you’re almost there) and a bit of insecurity that your students might hate you. At MIT, for better or worse, that salesmanship is more or less missing. There are certainly exceptions, but for every Donald Sadoway, there are ten Stewart Smalleys. Even so, with whatever will I have left to graduate, I will survive, and follow through on the advice of my MTV superstar.

As you can tell, I’m running out of gimmicks here. My hiatus from The Tech was spurred by some hate mail and now I’m sorely out of gimmicks. I’m thinking of running a “Top 10 Spammers At MIT,” so if you’ve got any submissions, do let me know. For those who cared, Kimberly Chao ’04 won the popularity contest by some 400 spurious votes.