The Chronicle’s View: Finding an Education when Games Arrive

We gawk at enormous banners on buildings, plan our extended Spring Break and gripe about parking. But in the midst of the hoopla, it’s easy to forget why we’re here.

U President Bernie Machen has long worried academics would take a back seat to the Olympic festivities.

This is not to say our university will not benefit from the Games, which accelerated plans for new dorms, the university TRAX line and the stadium. And who knows what more long-term benefits may result from ephemeral national and international attention focused on the U.

However, those seeking the best education possible at our state’s flagship university may be disappointed this semester.

Just as students did not get the parking situation they paid for, they will not get the education they paid for either.

Scheduling lectures, assignments and tests around a three-week break early in the semester is a formidable challenge for most instructors, and a variety of approaches have sprung up around campus.

Some departments offer condensed courses. Some assign big projects to keep students engaged, others take a more hands-off approach to allow students to take advantage of the Games, take off for vacation or hide at home. Ultimately, the decision is the student’s.

But in most cases creative solutions are just that. How do you compensate for a start stop-start-again semester?

The semester is already short, but the temptation to brush off the month prior to the Games takes another bite into many schedules.

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity can dwarf more mundane concerns or be a once-in-a-lifetime pain. But despite the hassles and anxiety, the Games will offer some irreplaceable experiences?even if the vast majority of us will be watching the events on TV, just like the rest of the world.

But the opportunities are out there?whether working as a translator, performing in the ceremonies, hosting visitors or just hunkering down to make bank.

But it’s up to the individual to take them.

We will watch our university, our city, perhaps even our state, change. And as residents and as U community members, we have the opportunity to be a part of it.

If you want to get the most out of this semester you probably won’t from class?the most reward will probably come from the Games.