331 words on Uni
I find it hard to have a high opinion of lawyers. They just don’t seem to do much good. The best they can do is to prevent damage, damage that would most likely be caused by other lawyers. And while that might work out to be a zero sum game, there seem to be loads of lawyers who focus on ripping people off right away. I suppose that to excel at such a job you have to be ‘tough’ enough to handle it. So being decent or even social would just hurt your career. A story that is often told by law students nicely reflects that impression.
When all students get the same assignment to do in the undergraduate days, all of them will have to access pretty much the same books in a short period of time. As there aren’t enough of these books in the library to let each of them have one, there can be a bit of a run for the relevant works. And soon someone figures out that he can simple wrongly re-shelve a relevant book and thus get a competitive advantage. Both by having the book and by depriving his fellow students. The book will still be accessible to him the next day but it will be lost to everybody else. Some call that clever, I’ll call it anti-social. And surely people who do it should be kicked out of the library or university.
While maths departments not quite wrongly have the reputation of being a bit of a freak-show, a good thing there is that people are generally decent and simply wouldn’t do such things. Or would they? Well, this week I needed a book and couldn’t find it where it was supposed to be. By sheer coincidence a friend saw it sitting on a completely wrong shelf (not accidentally mis-placed but neatly put in a ‘secret’ stash with another mis-placed book) and thus I got it after all.
However, I was not impressed.
Long story. When I was an undergraduate there was a similar racket perpetrated by some of my friends. In this case it involved some short-loan books that could only be borrowed for an overnight period. Since there were only three copies in stock these friends decided to rotate the books between six of them. One would take out a copy, and when s/he took it back the next day somebody would be in line behind him to check it out again. This continued for weeks, and many people in my degree group were continually frustrated and complained. I think it involved four different types of books at one point.
So, I decided to tell others within the group that this was going on and eventually one or two copies were taken out of the hands of my “friends”. Eventually some of these others, inevitably, told my “friends” I was responsible for breaking their monopoly on those books. It was not a nice aftermath.
To understand this a little further, our degree group was badly fragmented in to cliques that,min some cases, were very hostile to each other. At one point some tutors bought in a Psychologist to help us out, which involved some focus groups and Meyers-Brigg type classifications — it was all pointless.
And then there was the guy I caught using a huge black marker to prevent people reading whole pages of text in some journals, he was also found to have ripped out pages of critical papers, too…
Ugh. I heard about black marker / torn out pages cases as well. That’s possibly even worse.
Small bad world.
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