Tonight I had my first class in the PhD. program at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. It has been 10 years since I have taken a class, and I was a little nervous. First, I had to get a parking permit, as the U of A has a zero tolerance policy for people who park without a permit. Even visitors are required to get a permit, and the U of A police are real. If you don’t pay the fines, they boot your car. OK. Then I had to go to the Union and get my books and a Razorbacks ID Card.
I work at a University, but I felt so uncool today. I’m certain I stuck out like a sore thumb. Everything was so new to me. And carrying a backpack again — it took me a bit to get the hang of the backpack, then I remembered how to carry it. That sounds silly, but it was a big deal. I’m not going to be one of those old ladies who carries a backpack on wheels. Nope, I’m carrying it over my shoulder like I used to. But a backpack is a necessity, because I have to hoof it across campus a ways to my classes, which are in Old Main.
Old Main is the original building on the University campus. In the early 1990s, Old Main was restored, and in recent years it, and some other buildlings around it from similar vintage, were all given a massive upgrade in facilities. A special fund for the restoration of these old landmarks was put into force, and even today classrooms carry placards honoring the donors. The walls of Old Main are hung with portraits of former chancellors, University presidents, and school deans.
But Universities aren’t like they used to be. In the hallway, right next to the elevator (a retrofit that retains an antique look somehow – hope it is not the original) are two vending machines for newspapers. The New York times, USA Today, the Morning News and the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Instead of paying, you insert your Razorbacks ID card, pull it out, and there you are! Full, free access. I took a picture of the newspapers I took out of it, just to prove I’m not lying.