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Campus peeves: A lesson in undergrad etiquette

Milam's Musings,

Sometimes, I write about issues I'm passionate about and I feel deserve however big a spotlight my column can generate. And sometimes, I write because it's cathartic to put ink to paper.

Today's column is more the latter variety and it's something I think about four days out of the week, because I happen to be inside a classroom four days out of the week. At first, I was going to keep this issue relegated to my personal blog, but then I realized there's no better platform to deliver this musing, given who it is aimed at.

So, I'm just going to say it: I can't stand the behavior of my fellow students. What is wrong with you people?

Within the classroom, my peers engage in actions that make me think, 'Are you people really that oblivious to the noise you are making?' You know what I'm talking about.

The types that open and close their book bag zippers 10 minutes before the lecture is over. It's one thing if the professor is going over the allotted time for the course, but it's entirely different to do it while the professor is still going.

The types that chitchat when the professor is talking in what they perceive as whispered tones, but are actually noticeable and annoying. Part of this is on the professor to control the classroom, but most is on people that just can't be quiet.

The types that eat and/or drink with reckless abandon - I have a general pet peeve against food noise, so to have it in the classroom is particularly loathsome. A subcategory of this pet peeve is those who bring a four-course meal to the classroom - what is going on here?

But it's not just noise, either. The people that get up and leave in the middle of class to go to the bathroom, the vending machine or wherever they're going. I get it, some of us may have to make important phone calls or maybe they had a Venti Mocha before class and can't hold it. But for the rest of you, you really can't make it through a 90- to 110-minute lecture without a bathroom or food break? Obviously, in a class longer than that time it's understandable to take a break (and often, in my experience, the professor initiates one anyway).

It's distracting when five or six people every lecture are getting up and leaving.

There are also the people that bring their laptops to class, and I'm certain I've never actually seen someone within my vicinity taking lecture notes with it. Instead, their Facebook, fantasy football, online chats and whatever else they're doing distract me.

Or the ones that are on their phones within full view of the professor. Again, that's partially a professor problem too, but I don't get why someone even bothers to come to class if they're just going to rudely be on their phone the entire time.

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And seriously, who are you freaks that come to a classroom without a pencil or a pen and/or something to write on? You types are especially befuddling when you do this either on the first day of class or on an exam day.

I love that Miami is an institution of higher learning that has made itself more flexible and accessible to so-called non-traditional students, which is especially pronounced on the regional campuses, but those types can be grating as well.

Hey, it's wonderful that you've raised three children and have had some life experiences. I'm sure there's an important insight there, but your life experience is not relevant to every classroom discussion. All too often, the non-traditional students are too eager to connect every bit of lecture material back to themselves.

Yes, I'm generalizing, but that's what pet peeves are built upon in large part.

Then, there are the complainers. I get it. I'm frustrated to have to take certain courses as required by the Miami Plan, too, but I can't stand those under-the-breath comments from students complaining about homework or an exam or an essay. To flip it, so as to not pick on the non-traditional students only, those are the comments I usually hear from freshmen, fresh outta high school.

This is college. It's a lot more intense than high school. Rightly, then, expectations reflect that.

Unfortunately, these behaviors don't stay within the classroom, either.

I don't feel as if I'm a fast walker unless I'm running late to class. However, in all the times I've walked on a college campus, I'm convinced now there's some conspiracy whereby other people purposely walk slow merely to annoy me and/or make me late.

Of course, this is a perspective we all experience when stuck in traffic (not realizing that we, too, are the traffic), but I'm extrapolating to the sidewalk experience.

I'm not a science guy, but surely it cannot be humanly possible to walk that slow unintentionally? If only it was that, though.

On top of the slow walkers, much like the noise-makers in class (probably the same people), you get those that have no spatial awareness, or if they do, they don't care. Because they take up the entire sidewalk, and if I'm passing them, they make no effort to get out of the way, whereas I dodge around them, shrink myself and walk in the grass if I have to.

Worse are those who use the sidewalk to congregate in groups small and large, in which I again have to make the grass my sidewalk or awkwardly walk through them.

I'm sure most of my fellow students are wonderful people, but in my experience at Miami, the aforementioned annoying behaviors are common and consistent semester after semester, classroom after classroom and sidewalk after sidewalk.