For many college students, the first day of the new year is often met with blurry eyes and Advil to keep the hangover at bay. Not necessarily the best start, and the resolutions to stop drinking or smoking might not last, but a fresh perspective can be reached by simpler resolutions. For students, 2004 is, as cheesy as it sounds, a new start mid-year.
A semester, although daunting in the first few weeks when professors assign a dozen expensive books, five-page syllabuses and make threatening remarks about their grading policies, is a relatively short time. Yet four months, sixteen weeks or 112 days - however you break it - is enough time to make a difference.
Resolve to be kind to strangers. As a group of dedicated University staff has done, with its alluring CIVITAS signs, it takes some effort to make this community a nicer place. Pick up someone else’s dropped books or talk to someone who seems down. Instead of thinking that our school owes us one, perhaps we should think that we owe some members of the staff a thank you. Like the Aramark worker who cleans the vomit in the sink on a Saturday morning or the Library employee for helping find an obscure book.
Resolve to meet someone new. One of the amazing things about AU is its diversity - yet so many groups of friends start and end in New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Growing up in South Dakota is a lot different than Louisiana or Oregon, not to mention international students from Europe, Asia or Africa.
Resolve to raise your hand - and have something to say - in class. Some of the most intelligent people on campus sit in the last row and listen to the conversation, but neglect to voice their opinion. Maybe they don’t want to come off sounding silly, or say the wrong thing, or disagree with the professor, but polite discourse is a valuable part of a college education.
Resolve to introduce yourself to your professors - and visit them during their office hours at least once. They list them on the syllabus for a reason and it makes a difference if they know your name before the final review. Some of the most stimulating, valuable relationships are forged between a teacher and a student - and not just in terms of a positive recommendation.
Resolve to participate. Attend one game this semester, whether it be basketball, wrestling or swimming, and support AU’s athletes. Attend one lecture - yes, the kind that are attended not for extra credit - because of genuine interest in the subject. Attend a SUB concert, even if it is a band you haven’t heard of, or Eagle Nights in the Tavern on Wednesday.
Resolve to take advantage of the D.C. culture, whether it be by visiting the newly-opened Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center by Dulles Airport or by finding a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop in Adams Morgan. It’s possible to go a few weeks without leaving campus - but isn’t part of the reason for attending AU the city?
Resolve to vote. In the primaries, in the presidential election - and yes, even in the Student Confederation election in March. File for those absentee ballots now.
A fresh start - it comes once a year. Resolutions are a dime-a-dozen, but they can make a big difference in how our education and experience on campus. Make a resolution to make yourself, and this University, a better place.