Do as They Say

On Tuesday, April 22nd, Dean Damon Yarnell sent out an e-mail to the sophomore, junior, and senior classes that was titled “end-of-semester tips from our campus community.” Those tips, which include getting adequate sleep, not having energy drinks, and eating healthy snacks, were really good pieces of advice to give to students. These are also really good pieces of advice to give to administrators, in large part because the college itself ignores its own words of wisdom.

One example of this is with the issue of sleep. Dickinson preaches to its students during this time of year that sleep is important, yet the library adds incentives to be in there late at night with items such as study snacks at the Biblio Café. While I understand Dickinson wants to keep the library open late at night during finals (since there is the demand for it), it is quite bothersome that the college uses items like study snacks to encourage this all-nighter culture.

Speaking of study snacks, the college also fails to follow Dean Yarnell’s advice that “you need to feed your brain with healthy snacks.” People need not look any further than the late night snacks at the Biblio or the snack packs that are advertised by mail during Spring Break. While banana nut bread and brownies are delicious, these could not possibly be the sort of food items that Dean Yarnell envisioned when he gave his advice on eating healthy. In fact, many of the food items offered by Dickinson during final exams run contrary to the advice given in the e-mail.

While it is noteworthy that Dickinson does not follow its own advice on sleep and food, what is most egregious is that the college ignores what it says on energy drinks. Not only does it do nothing to crack down on energy drinks, but it also actively sells products such as 5-hour Energy in the Devil’s Den. What is appalling about the sale of drinks such as 5-hour Energy, other than the fact that it runs contrary to the college’s own advice, is that drinks like this are bad for study habits, sleep, and (most disturbingly) the heart. What makes this particular instance of ignoring Dean Yarnell’s advice more egregious than other instances is that the college makes money off of a type of product that carries significant and long-lasting health risks.

When combining the all-nighter library culture that is encouraged, the unhealthy snacks that are made readily available for Dickinsonians, and the energy drinks sold at The Devil’s Den, it becomes clear that the college needs to do more than remind its students of what not to do during final exam week. College decision-makers need to remind themselves of the exact same things they remind their students of. Until then, the college is sending end-of-semester confusion to students by advertising the value of sleep, but encouraging the all-nighter library culture; by touting the importance of healthy snacks, but offering sugary baked goods in the library during finals week; and by advising students to not have energy drinks, yet making money off of energy drinks at The Devil’s Den. The one way to work around this confusing message sent by the college is to do as they say in e-mails, not as they do in practice.