The 2010-2011 academic year, in reflection

BY GUEST OPINION | MAY 13, 2011 7:20 AM

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With birds chirping again and the police roaming around Saturday nights with their short-shorts on, it can only mean one thing: Summer break has returned to the University of Iowa. It seems we've survived another year, which is great. But has this academic year taught us anything? That is, in addition to your lectures, Dr. Kelly?

Why yes, actually. In fact, we learned quite a few things.

For starters, we learned not to become overconfident. One needn't look further than this year's football season, which was underwhelming to say the least. After last year's majestic finish of close calls and challenging fate, we had our karma called in. A bittersweet ending punctuated what will be remembered in Iowa City as a humbling season. Still, it put us in our most dangerous off-season position as fall quickly approaches. The Big Ten, and especially Nebraska, had better watch out for a dark horse.

Next, many students learned the hard way that "21 means 21." Despite the downtown bars' best efforts, Iowa City will forever be relegated to remembering the days when students actually had somewhere to go during the night. Perhaps one day UI administrators and city officials will realize it was not the bars that created binge drinking; instead, it was quite the opposite.

But this year also provided a crash course in the value of professional ethics. While free speech is to be prized, so, too, did we learn the old saying "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say it at all." Although Professor Ellen Lewin obviously never intended to teach us this parable, her actions serve to educate us all on the dos and don'ts of professional behavior. We'd be wise to remember this in the future, as our reputation as a leader in higher-education has been tarnished enough by these poorly chosen words.

Finally, we learned the power of unity. Argue as much as you please about the impropriety of celebrating a man's death, but the raid that killed Osama bin Laden brought peace of mind to many of us students. For a short moment in time, we forgot about who was right or who was wrong. We forgot about your crazies and my crazies. We forgot about it all and, in the process, remembered the humbling feeling of a fateful September morning, nearly 10 years ago.

The next academic year will be upon us before we know it. And with it will come the raucous nature of the Iowa caucuses, Big Ten football, and long lectures. But if we bear in mind the lessons of this year, perhaps we can get through without troubling ourselves too much.

Matthew Heinze is a UI junior.

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