Having class deep in the basement of the library isn’t anyone’s idea of a fun time. There are no windows to stare out of, no nearby classes listening to videos with the volume way up, and, worst of all, no cell reception. For those lucky enough to connect to the WiFi, this is hardly an issue. The rest must choose between panicking over their now-jeopardized Snapchat streaks or listening to the professor and diligently taking notes.
When sophomore Julie Erkin found herself winding deeper and deeper into the library on the first day of classes, her waning cell connection worried her: “I didn’t know what I’d stare at in class when I wanted to avoid participating. I felt lost…dazed…confused.” For Erkin, the first two classes were a marathon. With no access to Tinder, Instagram, Snapchat or Vine compilations, Erkin struggled to stay seated for the entire 75 minutes.
“I wanted to run,” Erkin told the Misc. “I wanted to scream and sprint up the stairs until I could see light again and know that I was within reach of a cell tower to check up on my Snap streaks.” At the beginning of the second week, a change came over Erkin. “I had nothing else to do, so I started listening. At first it was super boring, like who can’t define phenomenology in a simple and easily-digestible manner? But I started seeing the nuances of the essences of essences, and, like, grasping the essence of that, and suddenly I realized that the world is the fact and my thoughts are experiences of it, but that’s not right either because that’s an analysis of myself, which is a thought, which is not a fact stemming from the world. It was eye-opening. Everything feels fresh and new.”
Friends close to Erkin report a change in her general attitude as well. Eli Haden ’20 described what it’s like to spend time with an Erkin who pays attention to her professor.
“I swear if I hear her say, ‘well, to quote Hegel…’ one more time, I’ll chuck her in Sunset Lake. I can’t stand it, I really can’t. She can’t get on the WiFi and doesn’t have cell service for 150 minutes per week and suddenly she talks like she’s got her Ph.D. in philosophy. What is that? In the words of the Ancient Greeks, it’s the hubris of man,” Haden said.
Tristan Elder, a first-year in Erkin’s class, gave their take on their newly attentive classmate. “I guess people get more confident as the semester progresses. She didn’t talk much for the first few classes, but now it’s all the professor can do to get a word in edgewise. I think they’ll have to have a discussion about her conduct in class because it’s seriously like she’s the only one there and it’s her time to tell us about how she knows everything,” said Elder. “It makes me feel bad. Like, if she’s trying that hard to sound smart, I have to try that hard to sound smart, too, but I don’t feel that smart. It’s hard being in class with someone like that.”
Tensions came to a head when Erkin walked into class with a new syllabus and reading list and began to lead the discussion. After a confrontation and brief physical scuffle with the professor, Erkin submitted an application to the Committee on Leaves and Privileges to be allowed to teach the course due to the current instructor’s “gross incompetence,” and the administration launched an investigation into what disciplinary measures need to be taken to address the physical spat between the professor and Erkin.
When pressed for comment about her investigation and petition, Erkin simply stated, “They shouldn’t try to educate us if they’re afraid of what we’ll learn.” To keep peace in the library classroom in the meantime, Computing and Information Services has installed new WiFi routers in the lower levels of the library in an effort to make it stronger and more accessible to any students down there who may consider listening during their class time.