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June 12, 2003, Gazette

The not-quite-dog-days of summer

Well, spring semester is here. A few people linger in the student centre and some roam the halls, but really, Memorial is in slow motion this term. Last winter and fall there were about 13,000 undergrads packed on campus, but not now. This summer there are only 5,341 die-hard undergrads registered.

With fewer students, most campus services slow down over the summer. The faculty and staff recently began their summer hours so offices close a half-hour earlier. QE II is operating under reduced hours as well.

Coffee fanatics know that Roasters is also on a summer schedule. That means the Arts Building has no coffee stop these days and the Science Roasters is open less frequently. Treats in the student centre is still open for your java fix but business must be suffering. In fact, I don't know how businesses manage in the summer. The manager of the campus pharmacy claimed business was “dead” and the normal eight-hour workload reduced to a couple of hours.

Students appear more relaxed than usual. However, that could change when exams roll around. It always does. There's a tendency to put things off until it doesn't seem possible to get all the work done and then cram. It's not just how smart you are in university, but also how well you work under pressure.

For those of you doing intersession courses, midterm exams are already underway, which, I noticed, brought many students to the campus. Finally, there were bodies in the student centre. I still didn't have to wrestle my way to a table but that familiar cafeteria buzz was back in the air.

There was one event, however, that drew a crowd this term.

The parking lot of the Arts and Culture Centre was blocked from May 28-30. Inside there was an exhilarating hustle of activity. The reception area was hot with anticipation; full of optimistic graduates who, only a few weeks ago, looked nothing like the aspiring intellectuals they were. The haggard, run-down look common to university pupils disappeared, replaced by light-hearted smiles and laughter.

Their research was over, final theses finished, tuxedos rented, dresses pressed, gowns borrowed and caps fitted. Parents were going snap-happy with fancy new digital cameras. Another spring convocation has now come and gone and a new gang of budding, young graduates hit the streets.

The academic procession, which includes members of faculty, honorary graduates, the president and chancellor of the university just to name a few, contend convocation is “the most significant gathering of the university community.”

It’s true that all our scholastic efforts will culminate on convocation day. But there are many other significant days between now and then. Perhaps, going to parties instead of doing your assignments won’t affect the entire university community nor will your choice to attend MUN this summer, but they are significant decisions, each bringing you closer to or further from your own convocation.

So, have a good term. Relax and enjoy the quiet atmosphere on campus. But don't become complacent. Remember, every class you take, every assignment you write, and every presentation you give brings you closer to graduation.