Things I learn from eavesdropping on college students

I love working at a college where the conversations are, yes, about parties and like, crushes, but where discussion also ventures into the intellectual realm.

Passing students on the stairs the other day, I hear one say something about the delicateness of a fabric.

“Wait, is it ‘delicateness’ or ‘delicacy’?” he asks the girl.

They analyze it, and I have to say, I do too. The state of being delicate can be delicateness but then delicacy works too. Except we use it more to mean a special dessert. I like these kids.

At the dining hall, students can post comment cards with questions and complaints. I’m heartened to see a fair amount of goodwill: “Thanks for my grilled cheese, friendly grill guy!” or “Thanks for the soy milk!” There are complaints of course—no college can escape complaints about the food that is, I’d like to remind students, bought, prepared, and served to them—but it’s also a forum where sketch comedy majors can try out new material.

One card reads “Can we get cuddlefish and vanilla paste?”

“The water was very wet today,” says another.

“I love you guys!” says one surrounded by hearts.

The manager’s response: “Glad to hear you’re drinking your water. It’s good for you. And we love you too!”

It’s a place where I can discuss the finer points of The Newsroom (I love you Sorkin, but you’re so damn preachy) and feminism in Girls with students who love and hate Lena Dunham. A place where I can hear two girls gushing over Brené Brown, which turns me on to her TED Talks on vulnerability and shame.

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So, my friends, this is the cliché part where I say it’s not only the students doing the learnin’. There, I said it.


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