Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College

Campus Life

Wellies at Wheaton: Why, It Must Be March

Posted on March 2, 2011

One of my favorite poets, e.e. cummings, called spring "mud-luscious" and "puddle-wonderful."  Apparently, e.e. never had a basement in Norton, where puddles are not so wonderful.  [Insert deep sigh here].  It does seem, though, that spring is on the horizon, with longer days and a sun shining from a higher angle.  Though having lived in New England for a long time, I know there are a couple of whopper snow storms between here and Commencement.

And what's the best thing about spring?  The daffodils?  The Red Sox? The return of the Farmers' Market?  All good, sure, but the absolute best invention of humankind comes in March as well:  Spring Break!  I'll be honest—the reason I work in higher education is because just after college, when I got a job somewhere other than a campus, I found myself all twitchy at the beginning of March, and realized that until I accrued enough vacation time, I was going to have to JUST WORK THE ENTIRE MONTH THROUGH!  That was not going to work for me.  So I finished that master's degree, got a job on a college campus, and never looked back.

Now, though, I have a serious responsibility related to spring break, which is reminding you to be safe and smart, unlike Nicole, a friend of mine back in the last century when I was a freshman.  We trekked to Fort Lauderdale (it was cool back then—I swear) for the week.  She got rather drunk one night (I need to pause here and remind you that the drinking age was 18 back then), and the next morning, hung over, fell asleep on the beach.  A pale thing from Long Island, she got the sunburn to end all sunburns, or at least to end her spring break fun.  She spent the rest of the week in her motel room moaning and applying cold cream (this was also before aloe vera was anything more than a plant).  I, on the other hand, had the good fortune to be in the company of my roommate Tracy, who had recently transferred from Rollins College.  For those of you who don't know Rollins, it's a lovely little liberal arts college in Winter Park, FL.  Tracy, like all of her classmates, was an expert sunbather (I think they offered a major in that back in the '80s).  She traveled with, and shared, a variety of products designed to gradually turn us into what was then considered a healthy golden tan (we know better now, of course).  Tracy also kept us to a schedule, poking me every half hour or so to turn over so as not to tan unevenly.

So these are my words of warning:  don't fall asleep on the beach, and don't skimp on the sunscreen.  And to those of you going to less exotic destinations, my words of advice:  don't envy the ones who are at the beach.  One day they will see the aging effects of sun, and you will still look youthful.  Trust me—that will matter after 40.

It has been a busy few weeks here on campus, in case you've been too busy to notice.  I've attended lectures, dance performances, a cappella concerts and sporting events almost every night.  Luckily, I don't have to study, so I have the time to do this.  You, of course, need to be a bit more discerning in your choices.  I also don't go to Balfour dances (lucky you, lucky me; some things I simply never want to see up close), so that keeps my Saturday nights free for catching up on American Idol and then going to bed early. I think I've come to really like Steven Tyler, and have been trying to get Dean Jack to consider dressing like him.  He's promised to start with a feather braided into his hair, once it grows out from his current buzz cut.

Some questions I've been asked recently:

Who are the trustees and why do they get the good parking spaces when they come to campus?

Aah yes—the Board of Trustees.  They sound really powerful until you meet them and realize they're just regular folks who really care about Wheaton.  Some are alums, some are parents of alums.  Some are just really keen on the idea of Wheaton, of what we try to do here, of what we stand for.  They are volunteers who devote a great deal of time and attention to the college, providing guidance and encouragement, promoting us, literally, around the world, raising money for us, and always, always, always putting students at the top of the list of priorities.  For all of their efforts they receive a few meals from Aramark when they're here, a good seat at Commencement, and a sense of pride when a Wheaton student does well.  So a decent parking space seems like the least we can do.  I know you don't mind.

What's with the ticketing on Howard Street?  Why does the town of Norton control Howard Street?

The Wire covered the ticketing thing—it's all about snow removal and trying to keep the street safe and passable.  I'm not entirely sure why the town has held tight to Howard Street all these years.  It may be because it is part of the Norton Historic District, and they're afraid that we might decide to put vinyl siding on the Sem and a Droid billboard over Emerson.

Why don't we allow Peacock Pond to freeze over the winter so we could skate on it?

Because then I would worry about you beyond what I do now, which is enough for one dean.  And because Cowduck would have to decamp, along with his friends, to warmer climes.

Speaking of Cowduck, just how old is he?

I have four words to say in response to that question:  The. Dread. Pirate. Roberts.

Why do people kick doors and break the glass in various locations around campus?

Good question.  Each time we replace the glass in the door at Meadows or Balfour-Hood, it costs over $500.  So let's say that's happened about eight times this year, a conservative estimate.  $4000.  What else could we do with that money—your money?  Buy some nice benches for you to sit on in Balfour-Hood?  How about an extra-large flat screen TV in Meadows Center?  Pay someone's salary for a month or two?  Nope.  We have to use it to replace the glass that some Wheaton students think it fun to shatter.  So let me ask you:  what can be done about it?  I'm open to suggestions.

What's this new June orientation thing?  I didn't have one of those, and I turned out okay.

Good point.  But we can always do better.  We want to bring our admitted students to campus early in the summer so they can meet each other, meet some faculty, get some of their classes set, and see our beautiful campus at its peak landscape performance.  We'll send them home with a t-shirt and a schedule and a sense of anticipation about what's in store when they return.  This will also allow us to do some different things in August to truly kick off a new school year with the celebration it deserves.

I heard there's more to come in the Meadows renovation this summer.

Yup.  Every room in Meadows will be renovated.  All that beaten-up built-in furniture will be gone, so each room will have more floor space and flexibility.  New furniture, including beds that can be adjusted easily and dressers that can either stack or slide under the bed, will replace the old stuff.  Every window in the building will be replaced with one that is more energy-efficient and actually opens and closes easily.  The big wall of windows in Meadows Center will be replaced with windows that deflect the sunlight so the shutters don't always have to be closed during the day.  Each of the entrance lounges will be renovated into better social and study spaces, and the old front desks (aka the microwave stands) and phone booths will be removed.  New ceilings, furniture and carpeting will make these lounges much nicer for hanging out in.  All the exterior doors will be put on a card swipe system (like Beard Hall has), and we will no longer lock the interior doors to each wing, so you can move between the three Meadows wings more easily.  But my favorite item in the plan?  POWER-WASHING THE WHOLE EXTERIOR!!  Imagine it—50 years of dirt removed from the brick.  You won't even recognize it!  Sound good?  I've got to tell you, I get weepy just listing all that will happen.

I'm too weepy to even continue this d-log.  I need to go find Dean Jack and see how he's coming with the Steven Tyler look.  Good luck on those midterms and papers, enjoy your break, and come back rarin' to finish the school year in style.

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