Some of my students may be joshin’ me; they all insist they’re going home to study, eat a few good meals, and get some rest this week. None will admit to planning to spend the next few days broiling under the sun next to a Tiki hut on the beach in Lauderdale, chatting up and undertipping the bartender until she finally concocts a “special shot,” just for them and their loud friends, which tastes and looks exactly like Pepto-Bismol but apparently contains enough of her private stash of quaaludes to prevent them from remembering later how they came to be squatting under a hedge on Seabreeze Boulevard, wrapped in a stranger’s beach towel and shivering in the dawn rain. Not that anyone, anywhere, has ever been that stupid.
Even college teachers and their families deserve a nice spring break, as long as the system is already in place, and if the world were fair and financially sound, families would get to spend theirs a) somewhere luxurious, slow-paced, and beautiful, and b) away from their harried teacher-spouses and -fathers, who’d just bring along stacks of grading, book proofs, and eight-stone valises filled with Victorian novels they think they might want to teach next semester. But the world is making us all adjunct in one way or another these days, and like my students, my family and I will be sticking close to home.
Lucky for us, the Times ran a piece recently called “College Campuses as Affordable Travel Destinations," which points out,
The grassy quads and ivy-covered buildings that attract prospective applicants also make schools of higher education enticing for those with no interest in matriculating. Visitors can partake of world-class art collections and film screenings, not to mention more unusual offerings like the burial sites of Robert E. Lee and his horse, Traveller, on the campus of Washington and Lee University…. All this, without the pressure of studying for exams, or anteing up tuition.
Steve Lake, a pit boss at a casino in Las Vegas, became so enamored of the hallowed academic ambience after visiting Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology…that he made touring colleges his hobby. This past October, he said, he dropped in on his 500th campus. “I try to eat in a cafeteria or go to a bookstore or a game,” he explained. “I try to live in the moment.”
Maybe half the 50,000 people on our campus will be gone this week, so it’s a perfect time for us to have a little vacation right where we are. I can play Frisbee on a real campus quad with Starbuck, splurge on a grande latte in a college café for my wife, and give three-year old Wolfie a guided tour of various classrooms where real college teachers have taught important topics over the years. We’ll stay in a house owned by one of those actual college teachers, drive around a town where so many have gotten their educations, and maybe catch a glimpse of someone scurrying to do research or get a haircut at the local Borics. It’s shaping up to be quite a week.