Word from the Wise: An Informal Guide to Student Life
So you’ve just moved into your room and you want to make sure your living quarters remain as comfortable as possible. You’ve heard all the horror stories about noisy halls, sexiling, and awful roommates, and you’re intent on not letting them happen to you.
Well, you’ve come to the right place—unless you’re one of the increasingly rare freshman specimens with a single, in which case you need no help from us. If you want to fight the loneliness, go say “hi” to your hall-mates. Just make sure you choose reasonable hours for your visits so that people don’t grow to hate you.
If you’ve got one roommate, you’re either in a two-room or a single-room double. In a two-room double, remember that particular considerations arise depending on where you end up. For example, if you have the inside room, you get some privacy. However, you also have an increased chance of seeing your roommate naked or otherwise compromised. So, unless you’re into that sort of thing, make sure that you talk to your roommate.
In a single room double, this problem is more acute. In addition, you’ll have noise and light issues with which to reckon, and having your date sleep over will be awkward at best. If you’re in a triple, we wish you the best of luck. At least there are two people who might let you in if you lock yourself out.
No matter where and with whom you live with, communication is key. Most of you won’t bother to fill out the roommate contract, but make sure to cover some basic ground rules. If you don’t, you might one day get into bed only to find that your pillow has been replaced with your roommate’s toenail-clipping collection.
Most important: Please don’t urinate into empty plastic bottles. It’s very disrespectful. You have no idea how pervasive and enticing this practice can be if we are not willing to ask better of ourselves.
On Usdan: There aren’t any trays, so you can’t use any. The cafeteria layout is circular; take advantage of this by walking one orbit to survey all options before taking food. Do not take pizza and ice cream at the same time: if you eat the ice cream first, the pizza will get cold; if you eat the pizza first, the ice cream will drip.
During the first few weeks, you may be tempted to always attend meals with the same pack of people from your hall. Much better, while less comfortable, is to sit at random tables and meet new people.
Summerfields: Quesadillas are often the best option, yet they take forever to prepare. We LOVE the buffalo chicken wraps (YUM). By contrast, these take about thirty seconds to prepare. Hyperbole aside, we should admit: they are of average quality.
Star and Crescent: Located in Alpha Delta Phi, the “literary society.” They offer excellent home-cooked meals Monday through Thursday, and the first three freshmen eat free. Show up early or don’t even bother. Read Wesleying for menus each week. Meals, which include a salad and entree for lunch and an addition of dessert for dinner are prepared by a professional Chef named Ryan.
Food Carts: You will see them around campus, especially late at night. Mamoun’s is a classic, but there are a number of other options. We’ll have a comprehensive and up-to-date roundup once classes start.
Chique chaque: Psi U's enigmatic dining option. Don't ask, don't tell.
WesWings: Located at 156 High--walk around the back and you'll see it. One of the best dining options on campus; it has tasty food, a great atmosphere, and steep prices. If you like wings, say farewell to your points.
Weshop: The campus grocery store. Ridiculously overpriced but also amazing. If you like candy, say farewell to your points.
Culture and Festivities
Attend the film series regularly and enthusiastically, but do not talk during films—even if you are intoxicated—unless the projector stops, in which case it is acceptable to holler and naysay.
Read Wesleying and bulletin boards to find out about the endless number of events that are always occurring, most of which you will have to miss because you are doing work, attending to prior commitments, or going to different events that are occurring at the same time.
Always go out on a limb. It’s always better to do too much than too little. Sleep is for the weak. You should never be bored here.
When you’re not working on the weekend, only do what sounds fun to you. If large, seething masses of freshman don’t do anything for you, don’t be too off-put. This sort of scene dies out quickly as the year progresses.
If there is ever an Argus party (a “Pargus”), you would do poorly not to attend.
Fraternities and Sorority(s): A few large parties and large controversies aside, “Greek life” here isn't the overwhelming force that it is at some other schools; the frats are essential to the social scene but don’t dominate most students' lives. Psi U is a popular destination for first semester freshmen. There are a few other visible fraternities, at least one houseless sorority, two “co-ed societies” (Eclectic and Alpha Delt), at least one “secret” society (which has a little tomb-type building near Usdan), and a handful of other groups that generally keep low profiles. You will quickly figure out which of these you want to join, if any.
I know what you’re thinking. As a freshman, you can take a porn seminar, a course on queer theory, an experimental dance theory class investigating the subtle vibrations of growing vegetation, and physics, without worrying for a second about your major. You’re going to tell your friends that your education is “so Wesleyan,” and that you’re going to do the same thing every semester.
You might confuse your advisor and upset your parents, but there’s nothing (especially) wrong with this approach. The University encourages its students to explore different kinds of majors. After all, you don’t have to decide your major until the spring of sophomore year, right?
While true, thinking about your academic trajectory in this way may not be the best idea. Go ahead and take that course on porn that everyone and their grandmother has been talking about, but don’t forget to balance your schedule out with some courses that you can only take as a freshman or underclassman. Take it from us intolerably wise and enviably successful juniors—if you’re not careful, you’ll realize too far into your academic career that you missed out on a number of excellent opportunities.
For starters, make sure to check out the course descriptions for First Year Initiatives (FYIs). It’s virtually impossible to get into an FYI after freshman year, so try to take one before it’s too late.
You should also keep in mind that some courses are so popular they are difficult to get into even as a senior. The Biology of Sex is a good example, as are many of the beginning and intermediate level fiction courses. If you really want to get into one of these classes, don’t wait until you’re about to graduate. Put them on your pre-registration lists now, so that, even if you don’t get in your first time, you’re more likely to be admitted the second or third time.
Finally, don’t forget to try fulfilling your general education expectations early. To be admitted into some of the University’s majors, you often have to complete stage one (or even stage two) of these expectations. In addition, you usually have to complete general education expectations if you hope to graduate with honors or write a thesis. So if you try your best to keep your schedule balanced now, you’ll thank yourself later.
Oh, and don’t forget to do your reading--or at least enough to be able to participate meaningfully in each class. Because if you don’t enrich yourself academically, who will?
Do not hesitate to email professors. They chose to teach at a small university in order to work closely with students, so they’re here for you. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask one of your professors for help even if he or she is not your advisor.
Do not be inappropriately informal in emails to professors, unless it is obvious that the professor finds this acceptable. However, there is also no need to be excessively verbose or formal to the point of beseeching stiltedness.
Here is an example of what not to write:
Are there any spots in your class?
Also do not write an email like this:
My Dearest Professor Smith,
I can honestly say that I’d like nothing more than to enroll in Sociology of Sexual Becoming (SOC 666). Without reservation or hesitation, I can tell you that since I was twelve I’ve immersed myself in the study of socio-sexuality to the exclusion of a number of important relationships in my life. I’ve completed three internships in this field. Attached is a copy of my college application essay, which touched on my work in this field (I hope you enjoy it). Your course description matches all of my interests and proclivities exactly! Please, please let me know if I can enroll in this course.
Grover X. Freschman
Here’s the kind of email you should write:
Dear Professor Smith,
I would very much like to enroll in SOC 666 this semester, but I noticed on WesMaps that all the spots are full. The topics in this course hold quite a bit of personal interest for me, and I would appreciate it if you could add me to any sort of waitlist you might be keeping. I also plan on attending the first day of class during Drop/Add.
Emailing professors is something that most people struggle with at first. Don’t be afraid to be direct and assertive—you will often get what you are looking for if you have the gumption to ask.
Regarding gender-neutral pronouns, use them if you like them or if they are required of you. However, they are not an element of standard English usage, which means—peer pressure notwithstanding—if you do not use them, then you are grammatically correct.
Walking to the bathroom to shower: Clothes: OK. Underwear: OK. Shower flip-flops: optional (suggested in Fauver). Towel: OK. Robe: kind of OK. Naked: usually not.
Do not use other students’ toiletries without asking, even if yours have run out. Shower at least every other day. Don’t leave all of your products on the floor of a shower in a shared bathroom.
Shower sex will annoy others—use sparingly. In gender-neutral bathrooms, put down the toilet seat after urinating. This is a fraught issue for all sensitive men who care about gender equality, because what would actually be equal would be for men to always put the seat up and for women to always put the seat down (as in, division of labor 50/50).
Introduce yourself to the custodial staff, and say “Hello” to the person who will clean your hallway throughout the year. He or she doesn’t deserve the problems your peers will cause for him or her every single weekend. If you make a mess in a public space, clean it up.
If a genuine, non-petty problem arises between you an your roommate or hallmate(s), speak to your RA, especially if he or she seems friendly or competent.