I know this may seem sick and twisted, so dont get me wrong. Im not an evil person or a misanthrope. However, like any good critical-thinking humanities major, I get a little pleasure out of other peoples pain. Those familiar with the Broadway musical Avenue Q will recall the ditty Schadenfreude, the lyrics of which describe the joy of watching other people suffer not big things like human rights violations or personal tragedies, but the little joys of feeling warm and cozy watching people out in the rain or seeing straight-A students getting Bs.
Cruel as they sound, these lyrics resound with us all at some time or another whether we like it or not. Lets be honest: we all erupt in applause when some unfortunate student trips up the stairs in Stav Hall and sends her grapes flying over the railing. And we think its kind of funny when someone bites it on the ice in front of us on our way to class. We are all empathetic creatures, of course, but we laugh to diffuse tension and to hide the fact that were happy were not the ones in the embarrassing situation. Hence, the gravity of the lake-draining situation: how will we find entertainment on our walk from Larson, Mellby or Hill-Kitt to Buntrock? Without Lake Olaf, how are we to achieve our inward happiness at the misfortune of others in the early hours of the morning? Will we be confined to walking sans laughter at our clumsy friends to our 8 a.m. classes?
But I suppose there are other factors we should take into consideration. Ive heard rumors of environmental sustainability playing a role in the drainage of Lake Olaf. And Im all for that. As a staunch environmentalist myself, I decided to do a little research to see if the environmental incentives and overall convenience of having healthy grass and a dry sidewalk could truly outweigh the joy of making fun of my friends when they fall into the lake.
According to the 18th World Congress of Soil Science, melting snow erodes the soil that loosens through winter freeze-and-thaw cycles. And weve all seen the effects of heavy walking traffic over waterlogged ground. Not only do our feet erode the soil and spread it all over Buntrock tiles and carpet, but our footprints leave little hope for grass seeds that have been sown by an optimistic St. Olaf Facilities staff in early spring. And theres the extra work that others have to put in to clean up after our muddy footprints in the buildings it's really an unpleasant experience for everyone involved.
There are health concerns too: wet socks on the way to a day full of classes can hardly be good for immune systems already challenged by the stress of midterms and other life crises. Some days its a choice between soaking your feet or getting sucked into calf-deep sludge neither option seems too appealing, aesthetically or health-wise. And theres nothing worse than waiting, feet soaked and nose running, in the Health Center on a Friday afternoon just because you stepped in puddles all week on your way to Buntrock.
All things considered, the case for draining Lake Olaf does seem rather appealing. However, I cant say that it outweighs the hilarity of watching someone fall on his or her derriere in the mud. However, the damage is done. The lake is drained, and I guess Ill have to seek my cheap thrills elsewhere.
Staff Writer Miriam Samuelson is a junior from Atlanta, Ga. She majors in English with a CIS major.