Ruminations at the end of the semester

Daniel Asia

I have recently returned from a trip abroad.  In receiving my peanuts, pretzels and drink during the flight, I also received two napkins.  One napkin told me that by drinking Coke I would be helping the polar bears.  The other, an advert for Dasani water, advised me that they use a plant bottle made of up to 30% plant materials, and of course it is a100% recyclable plastic bottle. Which brings me to my University.  While using the flushless urinals in our men’s room, I am informed that I am helping to save 40,000 gallons of water per year. Out in the hallways, I can recycle various and sundry items in about four different containers.

In a different vein, at many of our best universities students can now study the history of rock’n roll, songwriting (a la Nashville), or even hip hop. This generally replaces an experience our students might have with those more trivial composers, such as Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, or Copland.

So two purveyors of liquid drinks tell me that by drinking their products I am protecting the environment.  Hmm, and I had just hoped to quench my thirst. And by relieving myself I get to help save the environment. Wow! At a university we now might teach how to write a country western tune. Well golly, and I thought a university was supposed to educate young minds with ideas and experiences that matter. Should we call it all mission fatigue, a lack of clarity regarding purpose? Or maybe it is simply all about making the customer feel happy and virtuous while engaging in a truly pedestrian activity.

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