As a kid growing up on the equator, I desperately wanted to experience winter, and in particular: snow. I wanted to make snow angels and snowmen, to have snow fights and taste snowflakes. I wanted the winter winds to fabulously tousle my hair, and dot it with bits of white like Kiera Knightly in “Love, Actually.”
Suffice to say, I had no idea what I was talking about. After a year and a half at UR, I’ve spent most snow-filled days shuffling blindly, head down, to and from the tunnels muttering “Fuck, it’s cold.” See, no one warned me about the cold. I don’t blame them; the sensation is hard to imagine and unpleasant to describe — the ache that settles in your fingers, on your face and in the deepest part of your insides. And no one warned me that a white Christmas meant a disgusting, slush-filled January, or taking numerous ass-wipes on the ice, or never seeing the sun.
I hate winter now. So I guess you could say I go to the wrong school. But there’s one other thing (other than my reluctance to do paperwork) that keeps me here: Rochester is absolutely wondrous in the summer. I’ve glimpsed this beauty only in pockets — of which the most poignant was an unexpectedly glorious day in late April last year, when the quad, once again, was teeming with hammocks, beach balls, music and people — some of whom most definitely should have been in class.
That day, I wished every day could be like this, that I could spend school in perpetual summer. And then I thought, hang on: what if I could legit go to class in the summer? And I don’t mean paying extra money in order to take summer classes — I mean what if we had a summer semester and a flexible study plan where UR students could choose which 2 of three semesters they would be attending in a given year: fall, spring or summer?
There is a precedent for this: introducing the D-Plan, where D stands for Dartmouth. Dartmouth operates on four terms a year, all year round — barring a few mandatory seasons, students are encouraged to pick whichever semester they please, be it fall, winter, spring or summer.
To me, that means virtually all summer, all the time. Say goodbye to winter blues, and spending months looking unsexy in your puffy winter coat. Say hello to long days, and nights spent studying outside, to exploring the city and Rochester’s numerous spring and summer festivals. An added celebration is that students who live in the southern hemisphere (where winter is from June to September) but study here will finally be able to catch a goddamn break.
It may sound small, but it’s often the tiny changes that can have the most impact. Seasonal Affective Disorder affects 1 out of every 20 Americans, and general winter malaise is wildly common, expected even. Why not quit trying to power through those bleak, dark Rochester months, and sign up to learn when you will be at your best?
And before you think this is nothing but wishful thinking — not so fast. Yes, UR does not currently offer this option to its students, but Meliora means nothing if not change.
Just last year, the University agreed to re-classify Economics as a STEM major, which significantly improved the chances of international students getting a job in the U.S.
Last semester, the University reversed its initial position and agreed to hold a public forum to discuss the proposal to arm Public Safety officers on campus. Both cases prove that if we the students want something, we’ve got to stand up and take it. But the keyword here is “we.”
I know my reasons for wanting to attend school in the summer, but I know there are hundreds more that I haven’t thought about. Let this be a starting point. Do you want this option? Do you think the idea is crazy? That it needs work? Then say so. Let’s hear it all out.
At the end of the day, I just want to be warm while I learn, and I would like to have that option available without an extra cost. What about you?