With the advent of classes on Monday, several new students reading this issue of the Thresher may go to sleep tonight with visions of Dis-O clouded in their heads by the impending CHEM 121 and PHYS 101 pop quizzes given at the start of class. Just kidding … maybe. As a senior who has tried desperately in vain to find substantial blowoff classes at this hallowed institution, let me offer a new addition to your arsenal of Rocks for Jocks and Stars for Stoners courses. It's called Watercooler Talk 101 and not only is it an LPAP that will make Art of Relaxation seem like you're training for a marathon by comparison, it's also a graduation requirement starting this year.
The syllabus is straightforward and can be found not on Owlspace, but on RiceOwls.com. The class meets most any day of the week, often outdoors, but the most popular days to attend are fall Saturdays, where class is held at the largest classroom on campus. Currently the class size is relatively small compared to that at other universities, but there's no cap on the number of students or any special registration forms to have signed; in fact, the class is free with your paid tuition. The professors are lenient and will even let you show up to class in a less than sober state. Supplies needed for the class include your student ID card, and for select classes meetings may be extended to include your favorite grilled foods and nonalcoholic or alcoholic beverages. Class participation is expected; those that sit quietly will receive little to no benefit from the course material. Overall, the workload is non-existent and the course is exciting and stress-free.
For those of you that understand what I've been rambling about for the past few paragraphs, congrats, you've passed the first test. For those still in the dark, I'm talking about supporting your Rice Owls with the same fervor and passion that you approach your schoolwork. Too often, we view our 14 Division I-A teams as a mere icing on the cake, rather than celebrating the fact that we compete at the highest level in collegiate athletics (something which only approximately 10 percent of American colleges and universities can claim, and only 3 percent of schools can claim in regards to football). The fact that Rice is home to athletes that are not only champions on the playing field, but will also be champions in the professional world some day is definitely a fact to marvel at. I'm not trying to say athletics are more important than academics at Rice, but it is vital to recognize the excitement that can be generated from a memorable sports season. (See the sections in your textbook concerning the 2003 baseball team, 2008 football team, 2009 volleyball team, 2011 swimming team or any number of men's and women's track teams from the past decade). The college experience is not about being holed up in the library every day of the week, it's about participating in clubs, fine arts productions, college governments, intramural sports and cheering your school on in the last two minutes of a tight football game. Some of the fondest memories I have from Rice so far have involved sporting events, from students heckling Naval Academy football players in 2009 by giving them names like "Maverick," "Goose" and "Iceman," to watching senior cornerback Chris Jammer return an interception for a touchdown to win the football game against the University of Memphis in 2008.
Some of you may be wondering about the reasoning behind the course title, or why it's classified as anLPAP. Put simply, school pride should always be considered a lifetime physical activity, and building a love of Owls' sports is one of the best ways to foster that pride, especially in a country where the sports section is the second most-frequently read section of a newspaper. As for the course title, sporting events are generally near the top of office banter topics at the water cooler (after general world events and the latest antics of Lady Gaga of course), so attending sporting events during your time as an undergraduate can only help relations with your co-workers and subsequently help your professional career. I'm not saying the academic accomplishments of Rice aren't something to brag about, but most people you'll encounter probably will care a little more about how the Rice baseball team did last year than what grants the history department was awarded. Sports are a great conversation starter for any setting in life, be it in the boardroom or the bar, and Watercooler Talk 101 is sure to help you ace any of those situations.
So put down your laptop (that was open to Facebook anyways) and books, don your blue and gray garb, grab some friends, and head out to the next Owls' sporting event. Because class is in session.
Jonathan Myers is a Will Rice College senior and Thresher Sports editor.