10 things to ban (instead of bottled water)

These things annoy Prof. Pettigrew far more


Photo courtesy of Sergey Vladimirov on Flickr

Last week I wrote that banning bottled water from universities was environmentally sensitivity gone too far. I hinted that there were other things much worse, and if we are going to start banning things, water should be way down on our list. Just to show that I am not entirely a spoil-sport when it comes to forbidding things, I offer 10 other things that I would rather see disappear.

1. Cheap cologne. While cheap perfume for women seems to be on the decline, cheap cologne for men seems to be making a comeback. Bottom line: I don’t want to smell you. Period.

2. Asking a professor where another professor is or when another professor will be back. It’s always the same: student arrives at Professor Hallcross’s door and knocks. No answer. Knocks again. No answer. Comes to my door: “do you know where Professor Hallcross is?” No. How would I know? Do you think we professors have some kind of universal academic GPS? Do you think I have a magic map showing his footprints moving through the Hufflepuff common room?

3. Non-specific email help requests. EG: “I don’t understand the assignment you gave us. Can you explain it?” No, because I don’t know what course you are in, which assignment you mean, or what part of it you don’t understand.

4. Pretending you didn’t know plagiarism was wrong. You cheated. You got caught. At least own up to it.

5. Walking in large groups slowly down the hall. Some of us have places to be. And for that matter, don’t you have somewhere to be? The library? Class?

6. Doing homework from one class in another class. You’re missing my thoughtful comments on Oscar Wilde, and I’m distracting you from memorizing brain anatomy. Why bother?

7. Asking what you need to do to pass the course after the course is more than half over. Think back to the beginning of class and you’ll recall that I told you what to do to pass the course…

8. Asking for a higher grade so that you can keep your scholarship or get into a program you want to get into. Those scholarship and admissions committees rely on me to let them know how you’ve done. If I raise your grade to the line they have set, it defeats the purpose of the line.

9. Bird courses. If there’s no way a student can try hard and still fail, then it’s not a serious course. This is mostly the fault of professors, but hey students, don’t feed the birds! Challenge yourselves.

10. Asking your course adviser which profs are the “good” ones. I don’t know what you think a good prof is. Do you mean funny? Conscientious? Easy grader? And even if I did know what you were looking for, I don’t see other professors in the classroom. Most times I don’t know if they’re what you’re looking for. Even if I did, I’m not going to bad mouth my colleagues. Well, except one.

Once we’ve gotten rid of all these things, then you can talk to me about water.


10 things to ban (instead of bottled water)

  1. Trying to trivialize serious issues with bad jokes (sorry, your ideas are just not that funny) does not do anything for anyone.

    If you are going to argue against a ban on a product that actually costs everyone money from the consumer (who buys the water) to municipalities (recycling and disposal) to our children (who will have to deal with the plastic waste we create), please make a good one.

  2. What about banning laptops from the classroom, vendors from harassing me at every turn all over campus, morons, rude parking attendents, and companies advertising all over the place? Also, why did my school put several flat screen tvs that are on all the time throughout the campus for no good reason?

    • I would LOVE to ban laptops from classrooms. 90% of the time, the students who are on laptops are NOT taking notes, but surfing the web – usually on facebook or youtube. It is not only disrespectful to both the prof and the other students in the classroom, but incredibly distracting as well – even sitting in the front row or two, there will inevitably be someone on FB or YT.

      I’m all for banning laptops. I know I’ll sound like an “old curmudgeon” but, back when I did my undergrad, we took notes the “old fashioned way” – by hand, in a notebook or on looseleaf, and guess what? We did just fine. We managed to pass our courses, and there were those among us who managed to earn excellent marks, going on to do graduate studies or securing excellent jobs upon graduation. All without a single computer in the classroom or lecture hall. Amazing, I know, but it was done!

  3. Although I understand the reason behind banning bottled water, it serves a very useful purpose during natural disasters. If it were not mass produced, it would only be affordable by the rich.

    If you want to make a real impact on the environment, why not ban live attendance, or driving to sporting events. We can watch at home for much less than the cost of admission and gas. Think about the reduction in gas, pollution and traffic.

  4. I will gladly join your campaign to make all universities (and public buildings, for that matter) scent-free. Where do I sign up? I am not a professor, but a student, but please don’t sit next to me if you must wear any kind of perfume – cheap or otherwise. I will just have an asthma attack and disrupt your expensive education.

  5. I posted on the original blog entry with my thoughts on the bottled water industry. I would however, like to add a few things here. The use of laptops within the classroom has made accesibility for many students with learning disabilities easier. As a note taker, I was able to e-mail those students on my list my notes at the end of each lecture. They had them instantly instead of waiting for photocopies of handwriting that is not always clear or me to download it into some transcription software. I know they are sometimes used for purposes other than note taking but I believe 90% may be an overstatement of the actual statistic. Furthermore, IT services can easily set a block on FB and other social media sites. In regards to YT, I have seen this site creatively used for educationaal purposes and support its use in the classroom. However, blocks can be set so that when access is needed, the user is able to request access to the site and their activity is monitored. Places of business are now using this strategy.

    To further my comments on token efforts, I believe that universities in general could be doing a lot more in terms of environmental conservation and advocacy. The university of Windsor in Ontario recently began a community garden on campus. How much of the budget was allocated for this? None. They managed to create and operate it relying solely on volunteers and donations. Now, the growing season is much shorter in the area where Dr. Pettigrew’s university is located, but this does not preclude building community gardens in greenhouses on campus. Further, it is still a great example of a university going beyong token environmental conservation efforts. Further still, it went beyond environmental conservation to advocating and providing people living in poverty within the community with fresh food. Another example: Additional efforts could be made surrounding waste. Resident students throw out a ton of household items each year when they graduate and move on. My last year of university I worked in public housing. At the end of that year, I had $700 dollars remaining on my meal plan. I was not allowed a cash rebate so I bought as many non-perishables as I could for the $700 and donated it to the public housing building I worked in. The food was delivered along with several boxes of household items I would not be shipping back home. Look for ways to recycle beyond the bins.

    Universities are great places to spawn some of these ideas. They are sources of endless topics of debate, research, creativity and resources. Questions such as “why ARE there flatscreens on ALL day?”, “why are more professors not utilizing online articles for course readings instead of printing 1000 course packs?” and “why am I being solicited at every corner?” should be posed.

    Solutions may be as simple as changing the vendors we place in the hallways. Why not have vendors from local farms come? The Wolfville farmers market is takes place in the Student union building each saturday at Acadia. It is WELL attended. The Cape Breton District Health Authority (health district in the community that houses Dr. Pettigrew’s university) has a “Heal Market” each week with local farmers located in the hospital. This could be arranged in a university. Sometimes its what’s being sold as opposed to products being sold that is the issue.

    Food for thought.

  6. @Catrunner

    I have a laptop and I never bring it to class.
    I brought it to my first undergrad class and the battery died on it (not enough plug-ins), so it was embarrassing to have everyone, including the professor stop what they were doing and wait for me to shut it down to stop the warning BEEP BEEP BEEP. I never brought it again.

    I find I get more out of my studies writing out my notes by hand, and then rewriting them again onto my laptop at home. It’s just a pain to drag around and why risk getting it stolen/dropped/etc.

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