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March 03, 2021 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily

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s a freshman attending my second
semester of classes, I came across
one phrase in all of my courses:

office hours. From what I gathered, it was
a valuable resource for students looking to
interact with professors and other teaching
staff. It provided a smaller and more
intimate setting for students to clear doubts
and build professional relationships. Best
of all, attendance was optional! Little did
I know that few courses would actually be
treating their office hours as a mandatory
extension of the class.

To be clear, I’m not referring to scenarios

where a few students regularly attend
office hours to cope with challenging
material. That is the purpose of office
hours, and I’m in no way advocating for
that to end. After all, we’re here to explore
new topics, not to coast along on existing
knowledge. I’ve had many instances where
office hours have helped me further my
understanding in a class.

Office hours are a beneficial resource.

Then why should they ever be an issue?

For starters, office hours don’t affect

the credit hours of the course. We aren’t
supposed to account for office hours
while planning out a course schedule for
a semester. Consequently, office hours
often clash with other items on a person’s
timetable. Even if they don’t overlap
with other meetings, students — some
studying remotely from different time
zones, like myself — can’t attend some
time slots. When you factor in other time

commitments like clubs, the available
time slots shrink even further. The issue
becomes worse with some smaller courses
since the instructors are only available at
rather specific times. Hence, office hours
aren’t always accessible for some. This
deprives many students of a chance to
attend them, especially in courses with a
small staff.

In normal circumstances, this wouldn’t

be an issue. However, when success in
a class depends on attending them, this
creates a performance divide. These are
cases where the majority of students are
attending office hours regularly and I can
personally attest to being in such classes.
While the overall material was enjoyable,
it was highly draining to have to attend yet
another meeting.

Why does this happen? In my


between what we covered in class and
our assignments. One might be inclined
to interject here by saying that’s part of
the challenge of college. However, when
assignments are representative of the
lectures, instructors wouldn’t cover any
new material in office hours. Instead,
they would prefer pointing you in the
right direction with subtle hints. With the
disparity, it seemed like instructors were
content deferring instruction to office
hours rather than adjusting the course to
cover the requisite material for homework.
Other instances included compensating
for poor pacing in online lectures during

office hours. Either way, it blurred the
“optional” element, instead turning them
into supplemental lectures of sorts.

The frustrating part was the impact of

this on students. The workload between
weeks didn’t necessarily depend on the
underlying material but on whether I
attended office hours. I saw some peers
drop the course because they couldn’t
attend the extra meetings — the workload
was overwhelming them.

Here’s the thing; it doesn’t have to be like

this. I saw many approaches to this issue
that worked much better. A few courses
that were offered asynchronously decided

to hold office hours during the slated lecture
times, thereby ensuring that everyone
would have access to them, if necessary.
Another course opted to carve some time in
the lecture for a makeshift discussion to deal
with some applications of the theory. Many
courses avoided the problem altogether
by basing assignments purely on material
covered in lectures instead of delegating
the necessary instructions to office hours.
Computer science courses, specifically,
offered a queue-based office hours platform
that I felt was ideal for courses with a larger
staff size. The new remote format offers
many unorthodox solutions; it’s time for

instructors to capitalize on them.

The pandemic has definitely made life

harder for students: We don’t need to be
actively impeded by the course structure.
It’s time for instructors that turn office
hours into another lecture to stop saying
that “we’re all in this together in these
unprecedented circumstances.” I’d much
rather infer that they care about us from
the structure of the course, instead of a
token acknowledgment that serves as a
cover to place more work on us.


t all started in a car. I couldn’t tell you
how old I was or where we were going,
but I remember distinctly the first time I

appreciated The Beatles the way I do now. My
dad, now owner of a music publishing company
based in Nashville, Tenn., has ingrained a
comprehensive music education in me and my
siblings — beginning with my bedtime lullaby,
“My Girl” by The Temptations. In that car, on
that day, I realized something that I will now
gladly argue to anyone at any time: The Beatles
are forever.

Since that moment, I have listened to every

Beatles song in existence. I’ve had the life-
changing opportunity to see Paul McCartney in
concert twice and have unforgettable memories
belting “Helter Skelter”, “Oh! Darling” and
“Eleanor Rigby” with a 70-something-year-old
Paul. My laptop, walls and Spotify Wrapped
have been eternally overwhelmed by The Fab
Four, and I can confidently say that nobody will
ever take their place.

All of this to say that I am my father’s

daughter in that I have utilized my
appreciation for bands like The Beatles,
Queen, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, etc.,
to encourage exploration of all genres and
decades of music. Anyone who knows me
knows the nature of my Spotify playlists
transcends all times and variations of music;
from Chance the Rapper’s “Hot Shower” to
Bobby Darin’s “Dream Lover” and back again.
My appreciation for and love of music all is
thanks to The Beatles. Therefore, it truly is all
thanks to my dad.

I have met few people in my life who have

the audacity to make statements such as “I

don’t like The Beatles,” or “Yellow Submarine
is a terrible song,” but nonetheless it’s worth
addressing for those that have.

For me, understanding their humble

beginnings underscores the magnitude
of appreciation they demand. The Beatles
began as a group of four young boys from

McCartney was invited to join 16-year-
old John Lennon’s band and after a series
of additional member changes, the rest is
history. While my short column cannot
effectively do justice to this sensational
story of the beginning brewings of the
British Invasion, I have watched and
encourage everyone to watch the plethora
of documentaries made about The Beatles.

In 1964 — coincidentally, the same

year my dad was born — The Beatles
came to the U.S. and made their first live
American television debut on “The Ed
Sullivan Show.” But the band’s prolific
nature became a problem for its individual
members. As George Harrison further
pursued his own interest in song-writing,
they began to have difficult decisions to
make: What songs would be recorded
and, even more challenging, what songs
would be performed? This led to their hard
but historically well-received decision to
take a step back from the stage and focus
instead on experimenting in the studio. If
you have ever listened to the album titled
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,
you know exactly what I’m talking about —
and if you haven’t, what are you still doing
reading this column?

The Beatles officially broke up in 1970, but

years later are revered for the ways in which
they permanently changed the game of music.
Time and time again, today’s top artists will
announce their primary musical inspiration
as The Beatles even in the unexpected genre
of rap. This article displays it perfectly by
citing explicit Beatles references and times
that artists such as Wayne and Mac Miller
paid homage to The Beatles.

I recognize that not all music is for

everyone. Some people exclusively take to
one genre or artist or sound, and I respect
that perspective. As someone who relies on
music to provide a soundtrack to my life in
more ways than one, I can understand the
specificity that comes with choosing music
that speaks to you.

However, I will argue until the day I die

that everyone has a Beatles song that will
speak to them. This is simply because The
Beatles do not fit in a box; they are a genre

within themselves. In this chaotic world we
continue to navigate through, take a second to
pause whatever it is you’re listening to and play
something by The Beatles — anything at all.

To end this article, I’d like to say something

that I’m not sure I say enough about my
unmatched love for The Beatles: thank you,


ll eyes have been on Texas for the past
10 days as a “once in a lifetime” winter
storm knocked out power and left

millions of Texans without electricity and heat
in freezing temperatures. In the days following
the initial power outage Republicans, including
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, have taken to Fox News
and other media outlets to proclaim that wind
turbines, renewable energy, the Green New Deal
and even U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,
D-N.Y., are to blame. In reality, this couldn’t be
farther from the truth. Texas’s infrastructure,
although unique, represents a bigger issue in the
United States — its power grid is dangerously
old and out of date. Texas should be seen as
a warning to the rest of the country that the
climate crisis is here. Being unprepared will put
millions in harm’s way.

So if it wasn’t the Green New Deal or

renewable energy, what actually caused the
Texas power outages? That question comes
with a response that is very on-brand for Texas.
The contiguous 48 states have three separate
power grids: Eastern Interconnection, Western
Interconnection and Texas. Their power grid
is called the Electricity Reliability Council of
Texas. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed
the Federal Power Act in 1935, which gave the
federal government oversight over electricity
sales — but Texas, which did not want to be
subject to federal regulations, adopted its own
power grid. 35 years after the Federal Power Act,
ERCOT was formed and tasked with managing
the grid’s reliability. In short, Texas has its own
electricity grid to avoid dealing with the federal

Those who chose to blame the Green New

Deal for Texas’s power failures have already
been receiving backlash for their false or
misleading claims. ERCOT predicted just 7%
of their anticipated winter energy capacity
would come from wind power sources around
the state. All energy sources have struggled
during the sub-freezing temperatures in Texas,

but the majority of energy production failures
came from natural gas and coal plants. Blaming
renewable energy, although baseless and
scientifically inaccurate, is one thing. However,
blaming the Green New Deal, a policy proposal
that has not been implemented in Texas or
federally and has yet to even be brought to the
floor in Congress, is a whole other level of mental

Not only did Texas isolate itself from the

rest of the country in terms of energy, but their
officials repeatedly ignored warnings that
this exact situation could happen. Ten years
ago, a similar disaster struck Texas. Freezing
temperatures froze natural gas wells, wind
turbines and coal plants. Texas’s government
and regulatory officials had the opportunity
to learn from prior mistakes and winterize
their energy infrastructure to prevent future
statewide blackouts. However, they left the
decision to prepare for cold weather up to
the individual companies who passed on the
upgrades, citing high cost. Texas officials, both
in the public and private sector, chose to forgo
infrastructure updates because of the cost,
stranding millions of Texans — who had no say
in the matter — without heat or water in freezing
cold situations.


isolated to Texas. The American Society of
Civil Engineers puts out a comprehensive
infrastructure report card every few years
grading America’s infrastructure. The most
recent report from 2017 gave the U.S. a D+.
This grade is unacceptable, especially in the
richest country in the world.

Yet, this was not the first time it received

that grade. In 2013, the U.S. also received a
D+ and it was estimated that the U.S. would
need to invest an estimated 3.6 trillion dollars
by the year 2020 in order to upgrade its

It is clear that the U.S. needs to drastically

modernize its infrastructure and energy

systems. As climate change and rising
temperatures weaken the jet stream, it is no
longer strong enough to contain the polar vortex
in the North Pole. This causes what is called
a “wavy polar vortex,” meaning it is no longer
restricted by latitude and parts of the extremely
cold, low-pressure climate system dip down into
typically warm areas like Texas. New regions
will experience climatic events they have
never experienced before and they need to be

As we see more and more of this increasing

uncertainty surrounding the climate, there
are only so many things that we can do as
humans and as a society. One of those things
is to overhaul the nation’s infrastructure so
we are better prepared next time there are
freezing temperatures in places where they
are not usually expected. This strategy can
also be flipped as colder places should similarly
prepare for warmer weather. Infrastructure
includes the obvious roads, bridges and tunnels
but also encompasses public transportation,
energy, schools, public parks and drinking water
systems, among many other things. Improving
these integral parts of society both structurally
and to increase efficiency would create millions
of jobs while making the U.S. a safer place.

As climate projections are fluid and leave

room for unexpected events it is important to
over prepare so that there are no situations that
catch society off guard. There are no downsides
to acting boldly and transforming and revitalizing
our infrastructure and energy systems. The
downsides come from a lack of action.

What’s going on in Texas is a wake-up call

to the rest of the country to listen to experts
and prepare for what is coming. Government
officials have been offered a golden opportunity
and they must take it, or millions of lives will be

10 — Wednesday, March 3, 2021
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com




Siddharth Parmar can be reached at


Alex Nobel can be reached at


Jess D’Agostino can be reached at


The subversion of “optional” office hours

Texas blackouts are a wake-up call

The Beatles are forever

Graphic by Tejal Mahajan

Design by Shannon Stocking


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