These days Life Sciences is a more personal department, and there are more trees, and shade, and the pale red of the bricks is muted by green.
Being here as an older woman I find myself at times appreciative of the kindness of students - they often hold the door for me, seem courteous for the most part, and have been helpful in moments when my iPad was nearing no battery and I couldn't find a working electrical outlet. In the library I seem to be a magnet for students who want someone to watch their belongings while they run to the restroom. But I also hear tales from my daughter about what students say about professors under their breaths during class, how they conspire to cheat and get by with as little work possible, and seem not to care much at all about the education they're paying for. (Or not, as the case may be)
I overheard a girl in the restroom bemoaning the fact that she has to pay for her own birth control while wearing $70 jeans. (I was inspired by the fact that the girl's friend pointed out her $70 jeans in response to the whine about paying for birth control!) I walk past shrieking fundamentalist Christian preachers here to take full advantage of freedom of speech, shouting about sin and judgment day, standing beside huge posters of aborted fetuses. I am not sure freedom of speech covers what they're doing, but they're allowed here and while I have Tweeted my discontent at having to listen to them I expect they'll remain.
This week two students posted hate-filled racist and sexist statements on an "underground" forum. Their posts were captured and reposted on social media which set off a small uprising on campus against their behavior, calling for their expulsion as students. The chancellor has declined to do that. Meanwhile I ponder what they're even doing here, in this place of higher learning. I'm continually surprised to encounter so many examples of that not being the case.
Mostly I'm inspired by the fact that the two college students I know best are avid learners who appreciate their professors and the opportunities afforded by their university communities. I'm proud that they care more about their classes than basketball games and that I will never have to worry about them making racist comments on forums or otherwise.