Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College

Campus Life

Missing: First Half of Fall Semester

Posted on September 29, 2011

Well, at least that's how it feels.  Seems like just a few days ago, first-year students were arriving with their anxious parents, siblings and dogs in tow, and now, we can see October Break on the horizon.

At least that's how it feels to me.  Those of you who have been slogging through Organic Chemistry and Microeconomics (slogging, yes, but LEARNING EVERY DAY, right?) probably feel like your break can't come quickly enough.  Your brains are weary, I know.  That much I can relate to.

For those of you new to Wheaton, welcome to the D-Log, my occasional missive to students in which I comment, question, puzzle and poke as the mood strikes me.  I generally pronounce it "dee-log," though if you're particular about such things, you can try rhyming it with "blog."

So, back to this semester.  We started with a storm that was light on rain, heavy on wind, which meant light on flooding (good), heavy on downed trees (bad).  We were without power from Sunday afternoon till Tuesday afternoon, powered only by generators, sunlight and the enthusiastic reaction to delaying the start of classes for two days (calculated at about 50 megawatts, more from seniors).  Many of you went home, either to your own place or to a friend's.  Some of you hung out in hotels.  And still others of you circled the campus for two days until we told you it was okay to come back.  About a hundred of you remained here, hunkered down in Meadows and YMC next to generators that were as subtle as a Boeing 767.  You huddled around street lamps charging your laptops and phones.  You played BOARD GAMES!!  Are you kidding me?  You still know how to do that?  I was greatly moved.

And then there was light.  And hot water.  And all was well.  So the semester began, with a bit of a bump in the Wheaton road, a first week of college that our class of 2015 will always have as a bonding experience.  Fifty four years from now, when you return for your big reunion, you will smile and remember a time when you could comfortably sit around a lamp post and talk for hours.  When you could stay up past 10 pm.  "Aah," you'll say to one another at your class cocktail hour.  "Those were the days!  Please pass the cheese cubes. "

Of course, the fact that the trifecta we call Homecoming/Family Weekend/Admission Open House followed quickly on the heels of opening, with a visit from the Trustees and the dedication of our new Mars Center in the mix as well, made September even more crazy.  I hope you enjoyed the many (many, many) festivities as much as I did.

Okay, enough of the sweet stuff.  Onto a more serious matter.

You might have noticed a few weeks ago that someone kicked in the glass doors of Balfour-Hood.  Shortly thereafter, they were repaired, to the tune of $1800.  That's $1800 we now do not have to spend on some much nicer things, like carpeting or some new furniture in a lounge, or a permanent repair to a ceiling leak.  Each month, we have to spend hundreds of dollars replacing broken windows, walls and doors that someone, for a reason that eludes me, thought it would be impressive to kick or punch in.  By the end of the year, vandalism has cost Wheaton—specifically, you— tens of thousands of dollars in material and labor.  Then when I go to the folks in charge and ask for some much-needed improvement in Balfour-Hood or a residence hall or house, they turn the piggy bank upside down, shake it (no sound there) and say, "Sorry, Lee.  We used that money to fix things broken by vandals."  I walk away empty-handed and really, really sad, because I know that it is a tiny percentage of Wheaton students who do this.  The cost, however, is borne by all of you.

This year, SGA wants to do more to combat vandalism, but first, they need to better understand why it happens.  So I'm going to ask you to email your president, Alex Schibanoff, and tell her why you think it happens, why people who witness it don't always report it, and what we all can do to prevent it.  She will take your input to the group that wants to work on this problem.

So many other really great things going on that I'd rather get back to that.  Amazing concerts by your own a cappella groups (even Ben Folds would be impressed at the variety of music our groups perform).  Lectures aplenty, thanks to both student organizations and faculty who know the value of outside-the-classroom intellectual stimulation.  Weekly farmers’ market.  Games, meets and matches galore from our soccer, tennis, volleyball, field hockey and cross country teams.  Too much to keep track of?  If you haven't already, download the Wheaton Now app on your iPhone or Android.  It will give you a calendar of all events, news about Wheaton (including results), and even the weather in Norton so you can plan when to wear your polka-dot rainboots.

Speaking of technology, please encourage your parents to join the Wheaton Parents Facebook Group (or search FB for “Wheaton Parents Association”) where they can talk to me, talk to one another, and generally fret over you without involving you.  The big upside of this for you is that they will have someplace else to go on Facebook, rather than your wall.  "Look over here, mom!"  Distraction is a good thing for parent-child relations.

So that's the first d-log.  If you want to get an email when they come out, please send me a note and I'll add you to the email list.  Otherwise, you'll get a general email to students announcing a new one's been posted.  If you have a comment or a question or a suggestion about something I should address here, I'd be happy to hear from you.

I'll be gone for the next couple of weeks, off to visit some of your classmates who are spending the semester in Bhutan.  While I'm gone, please behave for Dean Jack and Dean McCaffrey.  Jack, Kate:  bedtime is 10 pm, firm.  No caffeine or sugar after dinner.  And don't believe them when they tell you their work for class is all done.  There's always more to learn.

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