Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The anti-community college

Somewhat out of character for my COD (as opposed to myCOD) career to date, this past week has been conference season. The SSCP has exhausted himself flogging to all points (well Joliet Junior College and McCormick Place) to meet with fellow practioners of the chemical arts. Some rather unprepossessing sandwiches and extensively boiled cups of coffee were had along the way; but at the same time I was also able to take advantage of the largesse of one of the larger publishers at a couple of shindigs (of course they would not alter my position on any future book adoptions you understand). As I was hammering down I-55 for what seemed like an eternity in search of the illusive JJC, I was given to reflecting upon the generally soul-less nature of most community colleges I have visited. For one thing, they are often in the least communal of places; JJC is no exception, being somewhere in the vast unpopulated acreage between Joliet and Plainfield, nestling among a regional airport and a cemetry. They often share a complete absence of local resources to nourish the thousands of students that presumably do get hungry, want coffee, need entertainment. At JJC, Jimmy John's seemed to be about it. As for a beverage, forget it. One would think that a few enterprising restaurants could make a fortune in this community.

Then there are the buildings: they are often large, echoing and sterile. JJC is no exception; the buildings are vast; I felt as if I was navigating the terminals at ORD as I strode manfully to obtain the meeting's location. It was about half a mile between the refreshments and the lecture theatre. Of course, at COD we have the formidably horrendous IC (or BIC - poor Mr. Berg) to hold up as an example of anti-architecture.

Parkland Community College near Champaign is one exception that I have visited - the buildings have a sense of intimacy and warmth. Waubonsee, by virtue of its small size, is also friendly, but its location in the wilderness of Rte 47 leaves it wanting severely in that department.

At least at COD we can flog down to Danada for some entertainments, gastronomic or otherwise, so perhaps I do protest too much. I do much wonder though about how seriously the college wishes to create a sense of community for its student population. There is a radio station and an arts center, neither of which shows any particular interest in embracing the student population. Really, WDCB is a college radio station in name only. It's programming is entirely irrelevant to the college life; I can't imagine that the student population is captivated by the endless hours of jazz that pour forth during the daylight hours. No students appear to participate in its shows. The MAC at least has student productions, but the commercial shows are all very much targeted towards the older community - unless one counts Natalie McMaster or Richard Thompson as popstars. Even Benedictine has bands on its campus. I don't entirely understand it.

More later on the SSCPs outings to Chicago...

No comments: