​Uggghhh. Why do they have to charge extra for guac?

OMG. This elevator is taking so long! Stupid elevator algorithm.

I hate this Texas weather.

My TA sucks at grading; I can’t believe they get paid for this.

Complain, complain, complain. People complain a lot. Even I’ve done my fair share of complaining. Even though scientific studies have shown the negative effects of complaining, you can listen in any public space and hear complaints being traded back-and-forth like baseball cards. Despite the detrimental qualities, when all else fails, griping and grumbling is the glue that brings people together. It’s an easy conversation starter. Any stranger can sympathize with you over the horrible morning traffic or your neighbors stupid dog that won’t stop howling at the moon.

The act of complaining has been a constant in the whirlwind of change since high school. However, I have noticed a change. In high school, we vented for the sake of venting—a perverted form of catharsis. I’ve noticed more people in college who act on their complaints. They are willing to instigate change. Committees are formed, rallies and protests are held, meetings are organized. The removal of the Jefferson Davis statue last summer is an example of this.

I’ve noticed this change in myself as well. Instead of getting mired in a pit of negativity, I do my best to use my dissatisfaction as a springboard for improvement. When the gender gap in our department bothered me, I started working on an organization that focused on recruiting and retaining more women to CS. When I started to miss writing, I became a student blogger for our department and a writing consultant at the University Writing Center (instead of deploring the rather limited scope of my degree).

Last week, our department’s Student Advisory Board (SAB) hosted their very first Town Hall meeting. For those who don’t know, the SAB is composed of graduate and undergraduate students who are there to bridge the gap between us and the administration. They are a resource for us. The meeting was a platform for us to ask questions, make complaints, or raise concerns with anything regarding UTCS. Several of the administration were present at the meeting, including our Chairman Bruce Porter.

I went because I care about his department and I wanted to learn more about how things were functioning in it. And I wanted to know what other students had on their minds. I expected a decent turnout because we all know how many complaints the CS student body has. The complaints in this department run the gamut from from good natured annoyances to narrow-minded rages. You can hear people griping in lab all the time and read the dissatisfaction on our notorious Facebook group.

Imagine my surprise when there were no more than seven students in attendance. Seven – maybe. A department of almost 2,000 undergraduates and well under 1% shows up. Honestly, it was frustrating. Obviously some people had prior commitments, but equally obviously plenty of people did not. It’s sad that all those complaints from fellow CS students were empty, meaningless words. You could come to the town hall meeting and say anything, the words don’t have to contain cosmic wisdom. You could ask “why don’t we have UTCS t-shirts” or request those vending machines that serve meals (super nifty for late nights in the lab). You could just come to listen.

At the meeting I saw how much our administration cares for us and how hard they work to make our college experience better, and I think it’s only right that we at least meet them halfway. We seem to be awash in a sea of apathy, but I hope there is a better turn out at future town hall meetings.

Happy Thursday! :)  


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