Friday, March 16, 2012

Persona Non Grata

If you don't know WTF that phrase means, then you are normal.  I like to translate it as "Class F***" since that is what my friend Alex and I would tell each other.  "Doooooode, you're the class F!"  "No way, dude, YOU are definitely the class F!"

I had never heard the latin version before my tour of duty in college.  Why am I thinking about this?  Well, as I was speaking to the Yogger this morning, I realized I how different it is to visit a college campus than it is to live the life of a student.  The best description I can give of Princeton is the following.  Imagine every douchebag you've ever met, you've ever known, or you've ever heard of.  That's your bread and butter, 90% of the student body, all assembled into one place.  People who would rather "learn" than talk, work out, socialize, or actually experience life.  Now, throw in the cream of the crop from all of your life's most impressive moments.  The star student-athlete, the captain of the football team who also got straight A's, and the kid from Nigeria who didn't have shoes but kicked butt at everything he or she did.  The ones who didn't need to pick up a book to ace the final.  The stars that shine so freaking bright you can barely see around them.  Sprinkle on top of that the best professors in their respective industries.  Not just the ones who are super smart, but starting with that pool, hand-pick the ones who can explain complicated subjects with clarity and relative ease.  Confused about this eclectic mix yet?  I was.  Finish it off with an administration typically consisting of snotty adults who were rejected from the college of their choice and have therefore chosen to pursue employment from one, presumably in search of invisible prestige.  I know that's a lot of stereotyping I'm doing, and it is only my opinion, but I like to throw it out there as an unfiltered representation of my experience.  While I can't imagine a better place for academic indulgence and inspiration, I can't think of a more restricted and insulated social experiment.  Hence my mixed feelings about the entire experience.  Of course that was then, this is now, and it is surely a different animal in today's jungle.  But as a Hawaii kid in the 1990's, I did not fit in at all.

This was my first experience with extra special recognition from the Dean.  I forget which night this was from.  A bunch of friends used to congregate in my 120 sq foot room, sit on the couch or the floor, and force me to inhale second hand smoke from their cigarettes.  We didn't drink that frequently, we just did a lot of geeking out and bs'ing about nothing, much like I do on this blog.  We would pretend that we were performing our own rendition of "Conversations That Matter" which was the promotional video we all got as incoming freshmen, and seemed to inspire bs'ing.

Sophomore year I explored the limits of my liver.  We got busted during our biggest party, a 3 kegger, about halfway through the 3rd keg.  The ROI from this one was definitely highest.

Junior year we got served our notices from the party we had after finals at the end of sophomore year.  Everyone else was on their 2nd strike so they just got warnings, but it was #3 for me so I got probation.  The only noticeable difference was the length of the form letter and the duration of the "punishment".

Senior year was the only one which actually upset me.  My neighbor across the hall was more of a pothead than a drinker.  I had a 2 person room to myself so he and I and one other neighbor hung out in my room as much or more than anywhere else.  It wasn't that late, we weren't particularly noisy, it was just a random evening after getting all our crap done where we were hanging out.  The proctors had master keys and would typically knock while turning the key in an effort to "catch" by surprise, pushing the limits of their authority.  They took a pipe and claimed victory, missing the water pipe which was basically out in plain view and the ziplock baggie that found it's way into a desk drawer while they were strip searching me and the other neighbor.
This is my favorite part of this series.  I sent a reply to the original indicating that I noticed a typo.  The response was an apology for the inconvenience and a properly worded version (below) to correct my "file."  I cracked up about that one.  When an EE is correcting your grammar for a letter informing him that he is indeed the class F, and you actually take time out of your day to respond, you know you've reached beyond the normal levels of absurdity.
The best part of all these stories?  Acknowledgement from the administration that I was persona non grata.  That they did not approve of my antics.  I often wonder what would have happened if there had been a 1 or 2 week overlap in the probationary periods.  By the letter of their rules, they would have had to ask me to take "time off".  It would have forced their hand, would they stick to the letter of their rules, or would they manage the intent behind them by placing me under house arrest or maybe just kicking me out of the dorms?  Ironically, I didn't really want to live in the dorms after sophomore year's troubles, but they were wired on the campus network which allowed me to do all of my CS work from my room where I had food and music.  I had one fellow EE who lived off campus and had to use ISDN to connect, in the days before DSL and cable modems and it sounded like a major annoyance.

1 comment:

  1. I love these! It's so great how they're admonishing you, all the while reminding you that none of this will affect your future in any way. By the way, this is not on your record or anything. Ok, fine, this one's going on your record, but not on your transcript, nope.

    Princeton must've been the opposite of Berkeley. Did we even have RAs policing? If we did they were too stoned to make their rounds.