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Letter from the Editor: Four years of Hofstra Melancholy

By Ryan Broderick, Editor-in-Chief

It's a campus without an identity, a glorified commuter school, run like a shopping mall. We go to a little school with a quirky history, a frustrating present and a murky future.

It's a campus of contradictions. A beautiful arboretum on one side of the highway, a dysfunctional 80s architecture nightmare on the other. A strip of bodegas and shamefully destitute neighborhoods with clusters of satellite bars to the west. Desolate commercial nothingness to the east.

But this has been my home, this inane circus of Long Island nepotism and mindless departmentalism. And barring any sort of Hofstra-typical paperwork error, I'll be graduating on the 22nd.

That makes this my last editorial.

Hofstra's a lovely place some days. When the sun sets over south campus' orange foliage in September, there's a sense of boundless optimism. For upperclassmen, there are tiny, gorgeous moments in the fall, full of strong drinks, deprecating laughter and old war stories. And there are those spring mornings, after a large cup of coffee, in the lazy early sun, walking to class. It's the quiet and beautiful limbo that comes to mind when I think about my time here. Which is fitting because college is limbo. It's not the real world, but it's not high school either.

Well, The Netherlands is a glorified high school, but anyways.

I came to Hofstra after four years at an all-boys Catholic prep school. I applied to schools without much thought, mostly because I knew I wanted to write and I wanted to live in New York, but other than that I didn't really care. I received financial aid from Ithaca and Hofstra--Hofstra was closer to New York City. So I chased a boyhood dream of being Spiderman and tried to get as close to the city as I could on my budget and GPA.

Oh, by the way, contrary to what The University says, we are not, and will never be, a quick 25-minute trip from New York City.

I've met amazing, wonderful people here. I've had some of the greatest friendships of my life here. I've fallen in love here. I've had my heart broken here.

This is a campus built out of hushed alcoholic rebellions in dormitories, hazy clouds of smoke over its intramural fields, 4 a.m. sandwiches, spending a Saturday chugging water, feeling your stomach churn a toxic combination of Popeye's fried chicken and overpriced bar-liquor.

For the record, I did honestly try to come up with a collection of universal Hofstra experiences that didn't involved being messed up on drugs and alcohol, but I didn't have enough for a proper list.

There's a cruelty to New York, to Hofstra especially.There's a melancholy to this place. And I've tried for four years to put my finger on it. But I've never been able to articulate it right. Long Island alienates.

For every one fantastic person I've met here, I've seen two leave. My sophomore year I saw my friend Alex, someone I really admired, leave for somewhere more hospitable. Last semester, I saw another friend, Emily, leave after a bout with an unaccommodating Student Accounts counselor. Most recently, I saw The Chronicle's copy chief Darleen Denno decide to leave.

Darleen might be the perfect example of "The Hofstra Melancholy" (I vote to have that replace our reputation for venereal disease, it's a little more cerebral, I think).

She transferred here from Northwest Missouri State University as an 18-year-old junior. It'd be redundant to call her bright. She might be one of the brightest people I've met at school here. In a perfect world, she'd be running this paper, not me.

But she's transferring back because that's what Hofstra does. After the mountains of bull shit and red tape and thoughtless professors, the good ones leave. They've been leaving for greener pastures since I was a freshman.

There's a bitterness and cruelty that has wrapped itself around this campus and I've never quite understood it. But I'm sure I have it too now.

"The Hofstra experience" shouldn't be a profound one. The administration makes it difficult to make this place home. The Office of Residential Programs would probably be better suited working at a penitentiary. They pander to an infantile idea of "fun," while a stern administrative hand kicks you out in time for summer camps. To put it as bluntly as possible, they do not care about you--you are money to them--but they'll probably keep on wondering why they have a campus of empty dorms.

I mean, the idea of having to register for an extension just to live here until graduation is a perfect final insult from a school that seems pretty mad about the fact they have to deal with students. But I digress.

I've loved this place in a way. Hofstra stockholm syndrome, I suppose.

Regardless of how frustrated I am with this place, it's part of me. Its packs of feral cats, its beautiful flowers, its completely and totally random artwork thrown about, Lackmann's food that will rot away in my gut for decades after I leave, even the mold buried in the walls of its dorm rooms, it's all part of me.

Well, especially the mold because its like actually in me.

I used to joke in Nonsense Magazine's writer's meetings that we all went to a McUniversity. Hofstra's glossy posed recruitment ads were the same as McDonalds' menus. The food looks really good until you get your soggy, wet dollar meat.

Filmmaker Terry Gilliam made a sci-fi movie in 1985 called Brazil. It's a comedy that takes place in a dystopian future run by oblivious bureaucrats. The simplest task takes mountains of paperwork, organized by a headless and incompetent bureaucracy incapable of doing anything right. The film follows a government employee that teams up with a libertarian terrorist, played by Robert Deniro, who hope in some way to break free from the idiotically oppressive administration running the country.

They don't succeed and the main character ends up dying in a government holding cell.

Brazil should sound familiar to anyone reading this, because even if you haven't seen it, you've been to Hofstra before.

But through all of the frustrations, there are people here who are great, who fight everyday against a collegiate organism that seems hellbent on pushing out all of the good and qualified people that work for it.

Professors William McGee, Erik Brogger, Kelly Fincham, James Cohen, Peter Goodman, Carol Fletcher, Daniel Van Benthuysen and Amy Karofsky, all in their own way, made my life here wonderful. I've always been pretty vocal of the administration, but Dean Peter Libman, Dean Sarah Hinkle and Anita Ellis should be in charge of this whole damn campus.

And lastly, custodians Glen and Charlie, because without their help, I'm pretty sure I'd be in jail.

*Drops microphone*

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