Greetings from Corvallis, OR

I’ve been in Corvallis for about half a week now.  My girlfriend and I are house/catsitting for our shared advisor.  It seemed like a way to get out of town without having to pay for a hotel, and the cats are friendly (ignoring the bite marks on my hand).

I have to say that Corvallis has been very pleasant.  It’s a small town built around the college, which is quite beautiful in its own right.  I also do like OSU’s library, which you can tell they are doing their best to turn into a strong research library.

I do love the Pacific Northwest.  Corvallis is very green, both in foliage and habits.  Most places compost, recycle, and use biodegradable containers.  A lot of the food is locally and organically grown.  It was rather hot when we got here, but the last few days have been very pleasant, and the house is great.  A few days ago, we took a drive out to Newport on the coast, and it was absolutely gorgeous.  We’re planning on checking out some of the local cheeses soon, and I’ve been enjoying the beer.  Most people not from the area wouldn’t know, but the northwest is great beer country.  Also, coffee.  I did my undergrad at UW-Seattle, and they say that no place does brown liquids like Seattle.  No real ales, though, unfortunately.

I just submitted my grades for the class I was TAing, and I have some thoughts on summer school.  I think it’s a terrible idea.  They try to collapse an entire quarter into six weeks, with predictable exhaustion and frustration.  The students and the instructors have a hard time keeping up with the pace of even just one class.  However, the university, in an effort to drum up enrollment, has made summer school one low price for as many classes as you can handle.  Again, predictably, students take too many classes, and succeed at none.  As I have found, a surprising number are driven to cheat, and many turn in half-baked work.  I have also, strangely, had some students perform very well.  It would appear that some flourish in the environment, while a majority are crushed by it.  In general, I think it’s a bad idea.

Following my previous post, I am still curious as to what people think an appropriate punishment for cheaters at the university level is.  We failed them and reported them to the university.  Since it was their first offenses, they will receive a letter of warning, and the record is kept private by the university until the student either offends again or has the incident expunged from their record.  It’s mainly insurance against further offenses.  We had the option to request a hearing, but declined.  At a hearing, the penalty can range from warning to expulsion.  If a student is reported a second time, a hearing is required.

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