NYU Diaries: A Theory of Class Leisure
Written by Bwog Staff
W. M. Akers is at it again, this time telling us why our downtown rivals are just as tired as we are – even if they work much less.
In my film class this week we watched a three-and-a-half hour black-and-white movie, in Russian, that took place around 1400 AD. It was lovely, sure, but not thrilling, and 70 percent of the class slept for part of it. (Your correspondent, model of scholarship that he is, restricted himself to a modest ten-minute cat nap.) A boy to my left, who had perhaps just finished a government sponsored sleep deprivation experiment, was out for 175 of those 205 minutes, splayed in various poses across his desk and the two next to him. He shrouded his head with a sweatshirt for most of his Van Winkling, prompting the questions, “Why sign up for a class you can sleep through? What were you doing on a Tuesday night that left you in this state?” and “Can I come with you next Tuesday?” But it also made me wonder how students at a “selective” university can stand to doze so.
As my Columbian friends often remind me, you up at 116th work hard. Very, very hard, with the fervor of someone whose parents pay $50,000 a year for you to have the privilege. It’s charming really, your work ethic, and even if it makes you unhappy now, somewhere down the line–when you make partner, secure tenure, or overthrow the government of Guatemala–you’ll be satisfied that at 20 you worked yourself to exhaustion. Graduates of NYU’s College of Arts and Sciences will, in between bowls of soup at the Bowery Mission, look back on Tuesday nights spent drinking down the street.
CAS asks little besides a regular paycheck. Our core is easily finished in a few semesters, as it demands little more than that all students buy a copy of the bible and skim the Symposium. Take ten classes in a department and you get a major; take four and you get a minor. This leaves plenty of room for part time jobs, Condé Nast internships, and trolling museum mile. NYU charges us $2,000 extra for taking five classes, deterring anyone from giving themselves enough work to be busy on Saturday nights. Columbia may be greedy too, but NYU’s pettiness is unmatched.
Students in our other schools work like they care. The actors in Tisch spend three days a week in studio, grinding towards orchestrated nervous breakdowns, and students at our business school dress for class like it’s a job interview. But CAS students are paying to live in the city–$1,350 a month, for what it’s worth–and NYU throws in a vanilla liberal arts education as a makeweight. The college has some superb faculty and course offerings, but so many competing for classes that it’s not until junior and senior year that you’re assured a place in advanced classes. If everyone were taking five classes, you’d be hard pressed to find a spot in something more challenging than a survey.
Intellectualism requires a bit of elbow room, and CAS can’t spare it. That’s why we go to the movies on Tuesday nights, why we’re able to work a register 20 hours a week and tend bar on Thursdays, why it’s unheard of to spend Saturday in the library. There are 21,000 undergraduates and enrollment is increasing. As even Columbia has noticed, it’s tricky finding space to build in Manhattan, so by 2031 the University wants 10,000 of us abroad at a time, like Mormon missionaries, but with a different sense of dress. CAS wants to be an international brand, which means there will soon be settled populations of NYU goldbricks as far away as Singapore. Relaxation, dear Columbians, is an unstoppable force.