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Bittersweet lessons of Lawn losers

I haven't always gotten what I've wanted. I wanted to be tall. I wanted to have good eyesight. I wanted to be the star of the school play in eighth grade. I wanted to be a First-Year Judiciary Committee judge, a University Guide, a Summer Orientation Leader and a member of Resident Staff.

I did not become any of these things, but that was all right with me. I could blame genes or crappy U-Guide trial tours or a failure to truly appreciate the beauty of the first-year experience for my rejections.

It didn't take me long to realize that sitting around being bitter doesn't do anyone any good. This shows that my mother is, in fact, always right. Often, I've ended up happy that I didn't get what I originally wanted.

A year ago, I wanted to live on the Lawn. This ended up being just another item on my list of failed attempts at greatness.

Of course, I probably didn't really deserve to live on the Lawn. I hadn't an impressive list of extracurriculars and my grades weren't good enough. It really was just a shot in the dark for me, and I certainly wasn't counting on it.

But I still mourned when I got my letter from M. Scott Stevens, last year's head resident of the Lawn, which informed me that, although the committee wished "offers could have been extended to all who applied," I was out of luck.

I was left with more questions than answers about the process, just like the 187 people who got bad news in the mail from Don Koons last week probably were. Somehow, it seemed less fair than all those other disappointments in my University career. Or maybe it's just a little more heartbreaking.

After all, there's nothing like being told that there are 47 people who better represent the University than you do to put a damper on your day. Especially when the decision is made by 35 of your peers.

Getting that news sucks. In many cases, the decisions of the Lawn Selection Committee - a collection of people who undoubtedly give up a tremendous amount of time to perform a vital service to the University community - don't seem to make sense.

Good people can get left off. Sometimes those who have made the biggest sacrifices for the University fall through cracks of the process.

Two things need to be changed about the selection process to make it more definitive and less questionable.

First, the selection committee needs to have more time with applications. The 35 students now have one week to read over 200 applications. Students on the selection committee tend to be those who are heavily involved in activities. That means they are forced to carve time out of their already hectic schedules to read essays and pore over lists of activities for all potential Lawnies.

Finding about 60 free hours in a week is difficult, to say the least. It leads to some applications not receiving the attention they deserve, simply because the students reading them may be too tired to read so many essays so quickly.

If committee members had a longer period of time to read applications - two weeks, probably - they would have more time to weigh the applicants against each other and really consider what they are looking for in the next class of Lawn residents.

In addition to the time crunch, committee members now have no formal forum to discuss the applications after they have read them. The committee should institute a formal meeting so its members can discuss applications before making final decisions. Such a move would not eliminate each member's autonomy.

It would allow those who are unfamiliar with certain organizations a chance to ask questions of their fellow members who may know more about those groups.

No deserving student should be left off the Lawn because committee members don't really understand the scope of his or her responsibility.

In time, I may look back on my failure to procure the lead in the Timberlane Middle School production of "Dick Whittington and His Cat" - a musical extravaganza if ever there was one - as more of a disappointment than my Lawn rejection.

For now, the only words of comfort I can offer to this year's class of Lawn rejects are these: In the middle of January, you'll appreciate not having to either trek to the bathroom in the cold or urinate in the sink.

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