The Year of the Complaint

by Matthew M. Lug - Newspeak Staff

NOTICE: Due to past reactions to my writing in print and electronic forms, I am including this disclaimer. If you are likely to be offended by anything, please stop reading now. If you are already offended, then you might as well keep reading. If you are confused, please seek counseling. Only you are responsible for your reactions to what you read.

As the new school year begins, the WPI tradition of complaining is starting up once again. With Y2K, doomsday prophecies, and a presidential campaign, the 99-00 academic year is sure to be known as the year of the complaint. However, if we are ever going to get around to the larger topics, we must first settle all of our smaller complaints. Therefore, I have put together a short list of common WPI complaints and responses to them.

Complaint: There aren't any/enough/attractive women on campus.

Response: A very frequent complaint, this one tops the list. First, there are women on campus, quite a few of them. And yes, by most standards, many of them can be considered attractive. However, since they make up between 20% and 25% of the student population (a percentage that has not been increasing in recent years) there simply aren't enough to go around. Several possible solutions have been proposed, but most of them involve compromises such as sharing, settling for lower quality women, or finding alternate lifestyles. Many of us find these compromises unacceptable, so the situation isn't likely to change.

Complaint: There are too many computer geeks/SMAS people/wedgerats/frat boys on campus.

Response: This one is a typical female counter-complaint to the previous complaint, and is equally valid. Since there are so many more males than females, more males are likely to fall into specific categories or stereotypes that people consider undesirable. People in all of the mentioned catagories may indeed be perfectly normal human beings, regardless of their social affiliations. Then again, they may not, just like anyone else around here. These convenient labels make it easier to reject people for no real reason, so it isn't likely that things will change anytime soon. However, there are still plenty of us who do not fit into any of these categories.

Complaint: There's no parking on campus.

Response: The reason for this is similar to that for the first complaint - demand far exceeds supply. Everyone just has to have a big powerful car, and they all want to put it in a parking space as frequently as possible. With a limited number of parking spaces, some people won't be able to park and will just have to go home unfulfilled. A parking garage is planned for the near future, so unlike the first complaint, this one will only be around for a few more years.

Complaint: There's no campus center.

Response: Like the parking situation, it has only taken a few decades to get the campus center issue close to a resolution. In a few years, you'll have your precious campus center.

Complaint: The campus network is too slow/unreliable/useless.

Response: What do you expect from a campus network? As the network people keep saying, WPI is not an ISP. They do their best to keep things running smoothly, which can be difficult with all of the modifications and upgrades that have taken place recently. The network's primary purpose is to aid education; it isn't only for network games and downloading porn/warez/mp3s/etc. In fact, these alternate uses can bog down the network and cause problems themselves.

Complaint: There's no school spirit.

Response: Some people around here have way too much of it, and a lot of people have none. It mostly evens out.

Complaint: There's nothing to do in Worcester.

Response: See next complaint.

Complaint: People keep complaining that there isn't anything to do in Worcester.

Response: Once or twice a year, people on wpi.flame come up with lists of all the wonderful things there are to do in Worcester. This is usually in response to a thread entitled something like "Woosta sux!" Many organizations also try to put together activities and trips. If you're really looking for something to do, you'll probably be able to find it if you try. If you keep finding yourself with nothing to do on weekends, you can always stop by the Newspeak office and help with editing or layout.

Complaint: WPI lies about class sizes.

Response: This one pops up every year when WPI is listed as having an insanely high percentage of classes with less than 20 students. The main reason for this is that the three projects are counted as classes. Since most projects have less than 20 students, and since all students (who graduate) do three (or more) projects, that adds a lot of small classes. Conferences, labs, and small classes in less popular majors also add to this. Of course, the number is completely meaningless, since it says nothing about how many small classes an average student will have, so it really doesn't matter what WPI says.

Complaint: There are too many annoying freshmen.

Response: All you can do about this one is wait a year for them to become annoying sophomores (or less for some to become annoying non-WPI students). Of course, by then there will be a whole new group of annoying freshmen.

Complaint: My classes are too easy.

Response: There are usually three reasons for this complaint:
A - You're just too smart and nothing is difficult for you.
B - You're taking easy classes instead of challenging yourself.
C - You're really failing your classes but you haven't done enough work to realize it.

Complaint: My classes are too hard.

Response: Again, three possible reasons:
A - You're just too stupid and can't do anything right.
B - You're taking classes that are too difficult (4000-level or graduate courses without any of the prerequisites, I mean "recommended background").
C - You haven't bothered to do any of the work and now you realize that you haven't learned a thing in the past 6 weeks.

Complaint: There's nothing good in Newspeak.

Response: This one is easy. If you know of something that should be in Newspeak, then all you have to do is tell someone. Send e-mail to, stop by during a meeting, or even do the unthinkable - join the staff.

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