Yo! College Students… Put Down the Cell Phone

So, as many of you know, I have started grad school.


But this time, I’m smart enough to study something that interests me- Florida Studies at USF St. Pete (yes, it’s a real program, and so much cooler than anything else in, well, the world. OK, in the academic world.)

I’m into my second semester, and for some unknown reason, my esteemed (and it’s actually true, they are, check out their creds) professors saw fit to give me a graduate assistantship, which means that they pay my tuition and give me a small salary, and for a few hours each week, I am their bitch. Well, OK, I may have overstated that, but I have gotten to help them with some of their research.

And, as of last week, I’ve also gotten to work as a TA (teacher’s assistant) for Dr. Arsenault in his sophomore American History I class. For the first week I sat down in front, facing the class from the teacher’s perspective, and listened to him lecture.

And you know what?

College students are as annoying as hell. I mean, seriously, I had NO idea. I’ve been in a few seminars, which mean we read a fuckload (that’s the scholarly term) of stuff and discuss it in class. But lecture classes get to listen to the professor impart his wisdom.

If that sounds smart-ass, I didn’t mean it as such. But that’s what happens; you spend three hours a week listening to some guy talk about whatever. Except in this case you get to listen to Ray Aresenault give you his version of American history, starting with the Columbian exchange (which took place in 1492, when Columbus happened upon North America) and ended in the late 1800s, with the South trying to get its shit together (I haven’t checked, but I think we’re still trying). I like Arsenault, I like how he can make history come alive without all Discovery-channeling it up. I know that he tries to deal in the factiest of facts (it’s hard to get government docs that go back to the 15th century, but, still, he doesn’t deal in the speculative if he can help it), and he still makes it pretty interesting.

So what the hell are all you zygotes doing screwing off in the auditorium?

I know I am about to sound VERY “cranky old lady” here, but people, please, it’s just common respect NOT to talk during a lecture. At the VERY least, you (or your mom and dad) are paying good money for you to sit through the lecture. Try and pay attention. I never realized how incredibly disturbing it is for a professor when you text message, sleep, whisper, or whatever through the lecture. I don’t know how people do it, I really don’t. I was just sitting there, facing a class of 52, while he spoke, and I wanted to throttle you. The girl in the black sweater? We know you were on your blackberry. And the four guys in front of her who could have been Pikes (if only USF St. Pete had a Greek thing going, that is), well, I would have kicked your ass OUT for being so stupidly loud. What was so funny, eh?

Let me explain: I am (well, was, until Tuesday night) the WORST offender. I thought stodgy professors were so into ONLY what they had to say that they didn’t notice what I was doing, so I would text message, ask Peyton or Nano a question, re-read the chapter, whatever. Turns out that professors, well, they’re actually PEOPLE (who’d have guessed?) and when you act like they’re just an annoyance to be stumbled over en route to your MBA, they notice.

And it’s such a shame, because the people who have Arsenault for American History probably have no idea how lucky they are to have him and not some flunky off the street. Man knows his shit, and he can show you why any of it matters. He’s the best American History prof you’ll ever have. He’s got a few books out, and not just dusty scholarly shit no one reads. I think he has a film deal for Freedom Riders, and people like to read him- they don’t do it because they have to. Years from now he’ll be dead (sorry, Dr. A, but you probably WILL die) and people will still study him, and you lucky bastards will be able to say you studied under him.

But will you remember anything except the text fight you had with your boyfriend during the class?

God, I am a snob… AND a crabby old lady.

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I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.