There’s a stillness on the bio side of campus this morning. The heat is starting to set into the season and the silence is palpable. This is the beginning of week four and we all know what that means: MIDTERMS.
Much like Pan Am, UC Irvine is subdivided into several districts, which the powers-that-be cleverly distinguish based on majors. These districts serve the same purpose as the ones in the Hunger Games and one is rarely ventures out of their given district. As per my choices in life, I have been assigned to the grey side of campus, district bio sci.
Luckily for me, I am an oddity amongst my fellow biologists … I am the cheetah that can change his spots. Last week a new friend of mine in my com lit class, Justine, made an interesting observation: that my life is a game that has already begun. Ironic that, in a world full of ’Eaters, there is nothing more than our own UCI version of the “Hunger Games.”
In a world where a grade can essentially mean life or death (I might be being slightly over dramatic) it’s bizarre to think that everyone is out to get you. But that is the situation our classes create. We are told that we are a “community” but when you’re competing side-by-side with your friends you would be surprised to see the extremes they would go. And I’m not talking about helping you in any way.
There are set grade distributions in upper-div bio classes that create monsters in lectures, group projects that prompt students to stab you in the back and, lastly, even the simplest curve in a class that create mutes out of your closest friends. When it comes to our grades, it seems that even the most sincere comments are riddled with insincerity … a “good luck!” is lined with a hidden “just not better than me …” and no one is out for your interests except for yourself. Not your friends; not even those that we pay for help.
It seems that when competition is the name of the game, fairness isn’t exactly what you thought it would be. Nothing is as you had hoped. All that there is, is disappointment and the unsettling feeling in the pit of your stomach that everything is a charade; that there are hidden secrets being kept everywhere. It’s in the study session that you’re not invited to, the practice tests that a LARC tutor once gave out, the hidden policies that no one tells you about until you have “finalized” your fate and most definitely in the substance-less conversations that fill our idle lives during weeks like these.
Lucky for me, I am not the typical … well, anything! I am a little too social to be a bio major, but I can happily say that it has brought me closer to some of the most amazing people here on campus: the helpful counselor that will find you the extra (hidden) seat in a class, the bio majors that are amazing despite our competitive natures (Andrew, Jessica, Nicha, Josh, Elizabeth, just to name a few) and, of course, my bestie who has broken the bio mold with me, Chelsea. With amazing people like these in my life it makes it a little easier to keep my head above water, but only so long as the sharks don’t ascend.
As the classes get smaller and we move our way up the upper-div courses, there is something that we mustn’t forget: we are friends, not foes. Although they may turn us against one another, this is a situation where you may want to bite the hand that feeds you. We drift farther from the Socratic circle method of teaching, which humanities majors may sympathize with, but the science majors see that we now live in a militaristic war zone. Bombs are replaced by exams and the victims/enemies are those who in another light you call your friends. Let the games begin, and may the odds be ever in your favor!
P.S. Good luck! (Just don’t mess with any of my curves!)