Finals Week: Who Will You Be?

It’s the official start of finals week.Your schedule seems like it couldn’t be busier, your classes seem to have assignments popping out of nowhere, and your bed seems like it’s always empty. With this chaotic week beginning, there are many different ways that students handle their stress and time. Some classes offer study sessions (one GSI even held a 12-hour review session this past weekend) where students can work with their peers to help understand the material, while other students prefer the quiet individual studying in their room or a library. Either way, this week is all about time management. When and how you study contributes to your success. So, when my friend texted me the other day asking for my help on one of her assignments, I told her “no” because it didn’t benefit me and my studying. Which got me thinking, “Who would help her in this situation?”

There are two separate options in this example: The friend that helps and the friend that says no, like me. These two different types of people represent the views of two very different philosophers, Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. One would help the friend in a heartbeat, arguing that everyone’s best interest is the most beneficial way to life in this society, where the other would undoubtedly protect their own self interest, with the belief that every man should live for himself. So, during this upcoming week, who will you be?

Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes

Hobbes believed that human beings were sophisticated machines and, as a result, all functions and activities could be explained in purely mechanistic terms. However, he also acknowledged the animal nature within human nature, and believed that everyone acted in their own self-interest. They are content with their success, no matter the state of others around them. He emphasizes in his piece, the Leviathan, that people are focused on “competition of riches, honor command, or other power, inclineth to contention, enmity, and war.” A student who follows the Hobbesean ideals would thrive on other’s failures, therefore not looking out for the friend who asks for help when studying.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Rousseau, on the other hand, believed in human kindness and pity. He argued the importance of not having a sovereign within society, and that looking out for everyone’s self-interest is the most beneficial to a successful community. He states in his work, On the Social Contract“At once, in place of the individual person of each contracting party, this act of association produces a moral and collective body composed of as many members as there are voices in the assembly, which receives from this same act its unity, its common self, its life and its will.” If a student supports this idea, then they would’ve responded immediately and offered their help to the friend, rationalizing that if everyone looks out for each other, then the entirety of the class would benefit.

The viewpoints are on different sides of the spectrum, but seem to fit the general uncertainty of how to study for finals. Personally, I think that both strategies can form success, it just depends on the person. Either way, here’s to wishing students the best of luck on their finals, and hoping that, as according to Hobbes, their exams don’t result in a “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” life afterwards.

McDonald’s: What exactly is it?

Yes, as pathetic and cliché that it may sound, I have worked at McDonald’s. Where I grew up, McDonald’s was “the” job that every high-schooler held, and I was one of many that swallowed my pride and got a job there. After being a part the corporation for over two years, I learned all the nooks and crannies of what McDonald’s has to offer. But, even after working at the bottom of the food chain, I never quite realized how political the system was until reading Marx and Engels’s work, The Manifesto of the Communist Party

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A Contract for What?!

Having been intrigued by the question, “Thinking of your own life, what types of relationships would you want to be regulated by a contract?” I immediately thought of the obvious: strictly professional relationships. Duh, any place of work needs a set contract in order to maintain order and efficiency within the business. But when my peers started answering with things like, “relationships, marriage, and families,” it surprised me.

First of all, what even is a contract? As defined by Hobbes in the Leviathan, contracts are “a mutual transferring of right.” He emphasizes that within the state of nature, everyone has the right to everything, except for the limited rights that the civil society creates. We all have natural contracts with each other, kind of like a give-and-take relationship. Does that mean everything is a social contract? When looking at the dictionary definition, Google says a contract is “a written or spoken agreement, especially one concerning employment, sales, or tenancy, that is intended to be enforceable by law.” After reading that definition, my mind automatically goes towards employment and businesses, just like it says. So why have a contract within a relationship? A contract for a marriage too? Is a contract only a contract if it’s enforceable by law?

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What is it really?

Have you ever thought about what college really is?

In my Organizational Studies class, we read Robert Birnbaum’s piece, How Colleges Work. In it, Birnbaum elaborates on the idea that the collegiate system is an anarchical system, a model that can also be described as an “organized anarchy.” Defined by three characteristics, the system has problematic goals, unclear technology, and fluid participation. Much like some authors like Homer and A. Bartlett Giamatti, Birnbaum connects his argument to a sports match and games. Intrigued by the comparison, his piece proposes an interesting way to think of what college really may be, whether it be an anarchy or other type of dominant power.

“Imagine that you’re either the referee, coach, player, or spectator at an unconventional soccer match: the field for the game is round; there are several goals scattered haphazardly around the circular field; people can enter and leave the game whenever they want to; the entire game takes place on a sloped field; and the game is played as if it makes sense.”

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The Sorority and the Reputation

Admit it, whenever you think about sororities you think about one thing: parties.Rush just finished, and all the new talk is about mixers and date parties. Instagram is swamped with various themed pictures, ranging from “little back dress” to “high school stereotypes.” While a sorority’s image may be effected by how much or how little they mix, what is a sorority really about? Why would girls join a group that only goes out on weeknights and tailgates on Saturday’s?

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The Continuous Rock-Climbing Game

You hear a lot of stories about mountain climbers in the news, but the tales seem so far-fetched. Who mountain climbs anyway? Turns out one of the guys in my hall does, and not just as a side hobby.

In Lito Tejada-Flores’s Games Climbers Playshe works to define what climbing really is. She inquires, “The attraction of the great walls, above all, is surely that when one is climbing them he is playing ‘for keeps’.” This may be the case, but why do something so dangerous just for the thrill of it? My friend, Jake, let me in on the secret thrill that climbers get whilst in the air.

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