Raymond House: domain of the Rat King, probably haunted and, as of this September, also home to the busiest student on campus. Fiona Lake, a Vassar first-year, is well-known by those who know her well as the self-professed bearer of the largest workload in human history. Intrigued by her mythos, The Miscellany News decided to investigate.
When I arrived at the Deece to talk to Fiona, she toted a pained smile and a coffee the size of my head. We heard economics majors nearby complaining or bragging (not quite sure which) about the four hours of sleep they enjoyed last night. As Fiona listened, she smiled and whispered “amateurs.” Touting a whopping 3.5 credits in her schedule this semester, she described her daily life as incredibly grueling. “It can get really hard, you know?” she told me. “Nowadays, I only have around, maybe, like, 21 free hours a day. Ten of which I’m supposed to spend sleeping!” She threw up her hands, incredulous. “How am I supposed to function with only seven actual free hours to relax a day, at best?”
Luckily for her GPA, Fiona isn’t taking any math courses this semester. Instead, she endures an eclectic mix of “Bowling,” “Star Wars,” “The Vassar Campus” and “Cleopatra” (Editor’s note: These are all actual courses at Vassar). While she admitted it’s a bit too early to tell, she’s leaning toward designing her own major in The Office. The Miscellany News was unable to confirm if she means the TV show or just doesn’t know the economics major exists. “I wanted to challenge myself, you know?” she waxed. “To make sure I was getting every cent of tuition back through just…intellectual challenge. As much as I could get. It’s just a shame it means I have to drown in work like this.”
Her typical day of “drowning” in work starts with her going straight back to her dorm after class. A friend might stop her and ask if she wants to do something with them. Fiona gazes at them, her hazel orbs refracting distilled pain. “I’m sorry, I can’t…I have homework.” She exhales its name like it’s a curse. The friend raises an eyebrow, then shrugs. “Whatever. Have fun, I guess.” Finally ready to work, Fiona goes to her dorm, opens her laptop and instinctively types “netflix.com” into her browser’s address bar. By the time she realizes she’s not actually doing the work she was supposed to, she’s already two seasons in, and her mother didn’t raise her to be a quitter.
At around 2 a.m., Fiona finally finishes the show in question and is struck with the realization that her readings did not vanish as she had prayed they would. In a mess of quiet tears at her mounting stress, she toils at her desk (with only a few Instagram breaks) until around 3 or 4 a.m. At 9 a.m., she awakens and slowly starts to prepare herself for her 10:30 class. At 10:29 a.m., she sits down at her seat, and the cycle restarts.
After spending an extended period of time with her, I concluded that Fiona Lake is a student struggling admirably underneath an ostensibly unimaginable burden. To accommodate the absolutely unparalleled mountain of work shoved upon her and nobody else on the planet, she is forced to make difficult decisions and suffer through horrendous days. All of us at The Miscellany News (especially the senior staff who spend 40+ hours a week working for free on the paper) know we cannot hope to imagine her suffering, but we wish her all the best. On the bright side though, I’m sure she won’t need to worry about her workload increasing in any way whatsoever over the coming years.