Squash champions

This past weekend, Haverford’s women’s squash team packed up our squash rackets and headed up to New Haven, Connecticut for the college national tournament. After months and weeks of practice and games, we were excited to have the opportunity to play in this tournament.

We had qualified E Division and after winning all of our round-robin matches, we moved onto the championship match to compete for the big win. The night before the match, I could barely sleep. Come Sunday morning, when we won our division championships, all of the work that my teammates had put in paid off.

The squash team and athletics have been a big part of my life at Haverford; with practice everyday, we have all dedicated a lot of time to our sport and I’ve quickly become close with many of my teammates. Yet despite the time commitment required by sports, Haverford athletes have a way of balancing their time here so that their sport is not the only part of their life here. For example, many varsity athletes are involved in extracurricular activities like Honor Council, Student Council, and all of our student-led clubs on campus. In addition, there are no classes offered during practice times, 4:00pm and 7:00pm, to ensure that athletes aren’t excluded from taking certain classes. At Haverford, no one has to choose between being a student, an athlete, or a member of our student community.

All of the practice, workouts, and time spent preparing for the matches were rewarded by the title of E Division Champions.  But coming back to Haverford, exhausted from the weekend, we were not alone in our excitement; we were welcomed back as squash players, as friends, and as members of the Haverford community.

 

Finals Week Fun

To most students, the words “finals week” set off reactions of fear and anxiety. While final week is a time of papers, tests, and getting to know the library very well, this year I’ve been noticing all the little things around campus that make finals, well, pretty fun.

FAB, or Fords Against Boredom, is the club on campus largely responsible for the excitement of finals.  Every year, for nearly every day of finals, they throw a fun event that provides a well-deserved study break for everyone on campus. The first event, held on Sunday night, is the infamous “Midnight Breakfast.” At midnight, FAB opens the dining center and, with the deans, serves eggs, bacon, French toast, coffee, fruit, and bagels to any hungry students who want to come for a break or revitalization. Perhaps one of the most popular finals week events, the line was out the door but was most definitely worth the wait before heading back to the library. In addition to the deans’ participation in Midnight Breakfast, they also make the rounds to all of the libraries and study spots on campus handing out candy.

The second FAB event, which I went to last night, was “Ben & Jerry’s Bingo.” FAB orders an enormous supply of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, of a huge variety flavors. Students can come grab some ice cream, stay for bingo, and potentially win gift-cards to several off-campus favorites, such as Wawa, Kiwi Frozen Yogurt, Brueggers Bagels, and Milk Boy café.

Tonight is the last of FAB finals week events, but definitely not the least. At 11:30 tonight, FAB will take 50 hungry students to Philadelphia on a Philly cheesesteak run. They provide a bus that goes straight into Center City where students can buy cheesesteaks before coming back to Haverford after their midnight adventure.

These events, however, only represent the tip of the finals iceberg. Our Office of Academic Resources has extended their hours so students can use their study rooms as well provided study break opportunities, such as holiday card making. Tonight, they are hosting a “Willy Wonka Chocolate Extravaganza,” including make your own s’mores.  On another chocolaty note, another club just made their rounds around the library giving out free cookies and candy canes to anyone in need of a pick-me-up. Earlier today, our mindfulness club, HaverMinds, threw a “De-Stress with Dogs” event in conjunction with Haverford’s Pre-Veterinarian club, where they brought dogs from a local shelter to campus for students to play with throughout the day. And tonight, my friend made coffee for me at her carrel in the library when we both were gearing up for a study session. It struck me tonight, in thinking about all of these events and activities on campus, that both students and faculty take the time this week to make sure that everyone has a positive finals week. The self-scheduled exam times, meant to accommodate everyone’s schedules, and professor’s extended office hours this week also make it easier for students to manage their schedules and access the resources they need before going in to take a test. As I received my free candy cane to aid me in my history studying, I realized that it’s the little things this week—encouragement from a friend or a warm cookie—that make finals a way to close out the semester with your friends before heading home for the holidays.

 

Chemistry and Copenhagen

This semester, I am taking a class called Case Studies in Chemistry. The class is a non-lab chemistry course for non-science majors- for those of us that are looking to learn the basics of chemistry through our own research into various “case studies.”

To supplement the course material, my professor assigned Michael Frayn’s play, Copenhagen. This famous play speculates on what occurred during a secret meeting between Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, two influential scientists in the mid-twentieth century. As our class had looked at the development of atomic theory and key chemistry and physics discoveries, the lives of these two scientists were particularly relevant to the class material.

While the play was relevant because it referenced scientific theories and discoveries we had learned about, the class in which we discussed the play stood out to me for a number of reasons. As a History major, reading a play that placed incredible scientific discoveries in the historical and personal context of the scientist’s lives made concepts, such as atomic theory, come to life for me. Our class discussion around these ideas and their impact on society was lively, as everyone brought their perspectives from different majors and classes to think critically about science. My classmate even shared several of her ideas for her senior thesis on cultural memory as we discussed how Bohr and Heisenberg’s discoveries and inventions are remembered today.

One of the most striking elements of the discussion, however, was the number of ethical issues surrounding science. Looking at chemistry and physics in the context of World War II opened up a debate that each of us could participate in, even with varying levels of expertise in the sciences. This assignment and discussion was one of the highlights of the class for me because we broke outside the boundaries of a traditional chemistry class. Not only did we look at why these scientific issues are so important today, but also had the opportunity to hear different opinions from each other.

 

Calling all students!

This past Sunday, the Haverford student body flocked to the athletic center to participate in Plenary. Plenary, held once in the fall and once in the spring, is a school-wide meeting for the entire student body to get together and vote on resolutions related to life here at Haverford. In the past, these have included additions to our Student Constitution or Honor Code, student support for administrative decisions, and changes the student body would like to see on campus.

Yet walking into Plenary in our basketball arena, the crowd is unrecognizable from what one might expect walking into a basketball game. Not only are the bleachers filled, but students have camped out on the floor with homework, snacks, and friends. Clubs have set up tables in the back on the gym, selling t-shirts and baked goods to raise money and keep their peers fed throughout this meeting. Our sound crew plays music while students chat and filter into the gym- each student being counted as the meeting cannot begin until at least 50% of the student body arrives. Student Council representatives run around the gym setting up chairs and tables while those presenting resolutions prepare their arguments for their proposals. As one of the co-secretaries of Honor Council, I have the pleasure of sitting at the front of the gym watching this entire scene unfold while frantically setting everything up in time for Plenary to begin.

Just before 7:00pm, over 50% of the student body has gathered in the gym and the meeting can begin. Our Student Council co-presidents introduce themselves, the vice-presidents and secretaries as well as the Honor Council co-chairs and secretaries. They review the agenda and the procedure for the meeting. Then, with a moment of silence followed by shouts of excitement, Plenary begins.

The first resolution this fall was a proposal to reduce the amount of paper towels used in our dorms. The presenters addressed the environmental impact of paper towel consumption as well as the cost of supplying paper towels. By reducing the amount of paper towels used in the dorms, we could lower our carbon footprint and save money, they argued. Following the proposal, the pro and con debate begun, drawing students to the microphones to argue for or against this idea. Some students questioned the practicality of this motion while others argued that becoming more environmentally conscious is a necessary step we as Haverford students must take. The debate continued past the allotted time and the students voted to extend the debate another fifteen minutes. Finally, when rounds of students had spoken at the microphones, it came time for a vote. Asking students to raise their blue Plenary packets (containing all of the resolutions in print) in favor of the resolution, the Student Council presidents surveyed the room and announced that the majority had voted in support of paper towel reduction.

From Plenary, this resolution will go to the administration and facilities, which will work to enact this resolution on behalf of the students. From the idea of a few students to a school wide initiative, this proposal will now become a part of Haverford’s day-to-day functioning as paper towel use is reduced along with our environmental waste. With the excitement around Plenary, friends all arriving together to buy cupcakes and get a spot on the floor, I loved watched each student’s role in this meeting whether it was my friend presenting, a freshmen hall all sitting together discussing the proposals, or a student running up to the microphone to add one last thought to the pro and con debate. By coming together as a community, even camped out on the basketball court floor, Plenary is our opportunity to take these ideas and run with them, gain student support, and turn them into reality.