All in Opinions

 

It is the end of the semester, and the holidays have arrived! I am sure that everyone cannot wait to relax after a busy semester. Most people are likely celebrating some holiday, whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or the New Year. With so many holidays, it might be assumed that the University excludes some of them. However, I do not think that is the case; Hofstra focuses on the secular aspects of the holidays so that everyone can partake in the festivities. 

 

I, presumably like many other upperclassmen, always thought the small village constructed in the back of the Student Center before winter break to be something from the elusive Hofstra Elves. Apparently, I was slightly off in thinking this. Hofstra's Sinterklaas was an event that various student organizations and Greek life participated in. Two or three organizations would get together and build a structure to be part of a village in which kids from the Boys and Girls Club would later play.   

 

I don't watch or read any online news from the "one percent" pundits on mainstream television, so please take my words with a grain of salt as I address the underdeveloped, under-informed editorial titled "Black Friday protests show Occupy movement's lack of unity or purpose" in the Dec. 1 issue.

 

You know when you feel the loneliest? It's when you're in a crowd of people who are all excited to see each other and know each other, and you don't know a soul. That was my experience on my first day returning to Hofstra University. Being a transfer student gives you a whole new perspective on college. Those first few weeks at a new school are more like a job you really hate than school. It was a lonely world for me. I saw so many people from my freshman year classes, but I was too scared that they would not remember me. It was my junior year of college and it felt like I was the new kid in school again.

 

Since this is my last chance to flood the masses with the vast pool that is my wisdom, I thought I'd end on a reflective, enlightened note.

 With the year and academic semester coming to an end, this provides me with the chance to inform you of a few things I have come to appreciate while being in London. No, there won't be talk of how drinking is better here; that would be petty. Rather, this will be a chance to salute Hofstra for the things it does well, while at the same time offering a small bit of advice. 

 

     The NBA lockout came to a halt over Thanksgiving weekend after 149 days of painstakingly slow and unproductive meetings that resulted in a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which should have been reached in July. Instead of coming together and working to help further progress on the sport they supposedly love, both sides resorted to elementary school tactics that could be summed up in hissy fits on both sides and never ending finger pointing.

On Halloween, I peered out the window only to see white specks falling from the sky. The ground was covered in white slush and the window was fogged up from the cold. I had kept myself updated on the weather forecast, but refused to believe that it would actually snow a month before November. That was only the first sign of very strange weather.

I was used to coming home for Thanksgiving break in cold weather. I was expecting to bring my furry winter jacket with sweaters and boots back home to where my family would be waiting with the fireplace roaring. But this Thanksgiving there was no need for any of this, and we actually had the windows open to let a warm breeze in.

Struck with anxiety, I contemplated skipping my Wednesday classes to get a head start on the traffic ahead of me on my journey back home to Rhode Island. I thought back to my first year, when Wednesday evening classes were cancelled in light of the Thanksgiving holiday, and wondered about where that act of kindness went. But what about the other holidays, like Columbus Day and Veterans Day? Do our American heroes not also deserve a day of praise?

I understand how it works–we need a particular number of class days to remain an accredited university. And for that, I see why there's a need to keep class in session on holidays that seem rather "pointless." But there are students with family members that have served or are currently serving in a war. Plus, Columbus and America's early history is worth celebrating. Is it really fair that they should to skip class and risk falling behind if they want to celebrate in their ancestors' legends with their families?

Hofstra students have just returned from what could be called an abridged Thanksgiving break.  Instead of not having to attend class on Wednesday like every other year, Hofstra students found out at this semester's commencement that pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday classes were in session.  Students who had to travel a far distance to reach their holiday destination found this alteration especially inconvenient. Most who found themselves in this predicament left the university early, leaving sparse classrooms on Wednesday.  The trend of the school's inconvenient schedule this year continues with snow/study days and finals.

Usually, students are given two snow/ study days where classes are not in session.  

While Hofstra has a large group of local students, others, including myself, come from a far distance away. I live on the other side of the country, in Southern California, and last week was expecting the worst traffic and crowds. The Thanksgiving season brings the largest amount of travelers by plane out of the entire year.

But aside from the long flight and wait time at JFK airport, my Wednesday classes were canceled and the usually burdensome trip to the airport became easy due to the Hofstra shuttle service to JFK.  

Getting to the train station, hopping onto the LIRR and transferring to the air train to JFK around the holiday season takes an hour and a half. But the Wednesday before Thanksgiving last week, Hofstra offered three buses to the airport this year, leaving at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.

On November 25, shoppers all over the country headed out to grab great deals on Black Friday. Along with the shoppers, some Occupy Wall Street protesters mobilized into what they called "Occupy Black Friday." They paraded into malls, shopping centers and stores protesting against big businesses, and told shoppers to join them in their crusade in buying from local businesses rather than large corporations.

The Occupy protests have been referred to as a "movement," but don't movements usually have a solid purpose?

What these protesters overlook that while they "Occupy" the shopping locations on Black Friday, there are people inside those stores working hard for their money. These big businesses they are protesting against provide thousands of jobs to working people.

What do Coke, Pepsi, McDonald's, Burger King, Taco Bell, Dunkin' Donuts and Hershey's Chocolate all have in common? Besides leading the vanguard of a goal for universal obesity, they are all world-famous companies which come from America. There is, however, another American invention that hasn't been embraced with open arms around the world. It's Thanksgiving. There are few things that deserve better foreign reception, and Thanksgiving is one of them.

Having spent the past week travelling on fall break I have been able to reflect on the real comforts in life. I'm fully aware of what most of you must be thinking: ‘Poor Miles, getting to travel and see interesting places. Woe is he.' Usually I would accept such mocking sympathy in stride but honestly, it was exhausting.

How many times has this happened to you? You are walking back from class or relaxing outside when someone lights a cigarette right near you. What is your first thought? Do you think it's gross? Do you walk by and ignore it?

This has happened to me many times, and I always think, "That is disgusting. We need stricter rules."

The current rules about on-campus smoking states that smokers must be at least 20 feet from a building. Let me tell you, this needs to change! In the first place, many people do not even follow this 20 feet rule.

I think we can all agree that as humans, love remains an essential component to our happiness and well-being. We may not want to admit it, or care to let our hearts shine and make known this need for love known, but amidst our busy schedules, the need remains. Like an open wound without a covering, hidden beneath a winter sweater, the abstract void lies buried underneath our ego, our accomplishments, and our seemingly ‘put togetherness' persona.

Several weeks ago, I visited Hofstra's Emily Lowe Gallery, where Burton Silverman's paintings are on exhibit until Dec. 16.  Once I stepped into the gallery and looked around, I became aware of Silverman's keen ability to depict typical, everyday scenes and render them into poignant, beautiful images.

It began two years ago at Bits and Bytes. Then, it happened during the winter of last year at the gym. This summer, it came to Kate and Willy's and Dutch Treats, and two of the towers. Renovations have taken over Hofstra's dining halls and other on-campus facilities.

When looking at Hofstra, one of the school's features that initially drew me in was the beauty of the campus and its facilities. The school's appearance was superior to the majority of the others that I had visited and I knew that these facilities were well taken care of.

Penn State's Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, affectionately known as "THON," is widely considered the largest student-run philanthropic organization in the world. Since 1977, the event has raised over $78 million under the slogan "for the kids." I personal went to THON and experienced this deeply emotional event.

It does not make sense to me why those at Penn State recently forgot their powerful "for the kids" slogan when news broke out about the dismissal of their beloved head football coach, Joe Paterno. Maybe this isn't a fair comparison: raising money for children with cancer versus news about children sexually abused by a member of the coaching staff. But both come down to the same premise. It was done "for the kids."

I remember freshman year, hauling my laundry to the second floor of my residence hall and swiping my card to use the machines. Back then, students put Dutch Debits on their cards, and for roughly a dollar, I could get two loads of laundry done.

 When Hofstra decided to put a built-in laundry fee on tuition, I initially loved it. Not having to make Dutch Debit transfers every week and figuratively getting unlimited opportunities to do laundry was great. However, the repulsive state of the laundry rooms and the behavior of people in them make me long for the "pay as you go" system of earlier times.

In the Nov. 3 issue of The Chronicle, Ronny O'Leary and Miles Bett complained about the Hofstra calendar. O'Leary, in "Local finds empathy for those aggravated by Thanksgiving schedule change," laments classes meeting the day before Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, Bett in "Senior demands reasons for poorly planned break schedules" takes aim at Hofstra's late spring break.

They should both be aware that there are faculty and administrators who share their concern.