Wellness Is For Wimps

Focusing more on wellness at Swarthmore is a crappy idea. Everyone who comes here gets frustrated, sooner or later. Frustration may not be the defining theme for everybody’s experience here, but learning to channel it is definitely on the curriculum.Why should we get institutional support at all? If the point is for us to learn to deal with obstacles, and in doing so to learn the “knowledge, insight, skills, and experience to become leaders for the common good,” as it says on the Swarthmore website, we had better be able to survive this experience if we are to become leaders in the world at large.I suggest we take away every source of wellness. In fact, let’s institute groups dedicated to “uneasiness.” The Uneasiness Group focuses on creating subtle psychological pressures to frustrate and break us. Systematically put one-off errors into students’ CS labs when they’re sleeping, whisper “you’re going to fail” through intercoms throughout the day, etc.

This group will be a break-off of the unofficial Uneasiness Working Group that’s been operating out of the Dean’s Office. It’ll be a fresh relief from their tired old pranks, such as stopping the Clothier bell tower from ringing randomly in the fall (“to simulate entering the eternity of hell”). Instead, we can make use of psychological studies that say randomness is radically more uncomfortable. Ring it, then don’t ring it. Stop it mid-ring, for no reason at all. Go entire nights where the bell is ringing nonstop, and why stop there?

The Uneasiness Group will use science to inform our initiatives. The psychology department has suggested that we secretly install video cameras on every hall and observe how people’s behavior changes.

Sometimes I question the deans’ commitment when they say things like, “If we make students any more uncomfortable, someone will die.” You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs and you can’t make a Barack Obama without breaking a few failures.

I know all this can seem bewildering sometimes, and I’m not trying to overwhelm you, or make your experience unpleasant. I’m just trying to make sure you squeeze as much education as possible out of your tuition.

It’s like working out with weights on. If you can run a mile in eight minutes with an orangutan that is exactly your body weight on your back, then you should be able to run the mile in four minutes without it.

Those of you on the working group who say I’m making this break-off group because I am a bad listener and can’t take criticism, all I’ve got to say to that is this: Yeah, yeah, whatever.

In my Uneasiness Group, there won’t be any accusations of immaturity. Go ahead, suggest it, I know you’re thinking it. I’m thinking it too. No idea is off-limits. Let’s hide in the trees and spook the parents. Punch a spec or two. The intense discomfort of the situation would be enough to send most of my friends back to their rooms for a week — but not me, I’m a leader. I’m going to be president. Of China. But first, I need to get a job at McCabe.

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