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There’s Snow Way That’s A Good Idea

, , , , , , , | Learning | September 24, 2021

Every year, my graduate program brings in a crop of new potential students for an “interview weekend.” Knowing that these students are visiting other schools as well, we try to make sure that they not only learn about the program but also have a good time.

One year, we book a banquet hall for a nice dinner on the last night of the interview weekend. It’s a fancy catered meal with current students, potential students, and professors. This particular banquet hall happens to be attached to a major league baseball stadium, though it’s not currently baseball season. From the windows of the hall, we can see the empty field covered in snow while we eat dinner.

[Professor] is the youngest professor in the department, and though he’s a nice guy, he’s constantly trying to show the students that he’s the “cool” professor. After dinner ends, he stands up and taps on his glass for everyone’s attention.

Professor: “I hear there’s been some interest in going down onto the field to run the bases at [Stadium].”

Students: “Yaaaay!”

Professor: “Well, I asked if we could, and they said we can’t.”

Students: “Awww.”

Professor: “But WHO WANTS TO DO IT ANYWAY?!”

He stood up. Immediately, about fifty students stood up, as well, and followed him out into the hall. Admittedly, I was one of them. Hey, if a professor is leading the charge, he’d be the one to get in trouble, right?

He led us on a march through hallways, down stairs, and through doors. At some point, I think we crossed a sky bridge from the banquet hall into the stadium itself, which I had assumed would be locked in some way, but it wasn’t.

During our march, a few of us got cold feet — a passing custodian warned us that we’d get arrested — so we positioned ourselves where we could see the field and just watched to see what would happen.

Apparently, [Professor] and the mob of students were able to make their way right to the double doors that led directly onto the field. A friend of mine says that, in retrospect, he thinks [Professor]’s plan was to get to those doors, show they couldn’t be opened, and lead the disappointed but excited grad students back to the banquet hall.

Instead, the double doors opened. [Professor] turned around, shocked, only to be mown down by a mob of gleeful students that he had unleashed on the empty stadium. From my vantage on the sky bridge, I saw students running the bases, throwing snowballs, and making snow angels in the outfield. Some kind of loud alarm instantly started blaring, and security removed everyone from the field. Our entire department was then kicked out of the banquet hall and told we were banned for life.

I never found out what happened to [Professor]. But I did hear that our wonderful administrators, as soon as they heard what happened, sent flowers and apologies to the staff at the banquet hall. When the following year’s interview weekend rolled around, we were somehow allowed back!