mathNEWS Issue 85.1: Friday, January 19, 2001

The Frosh Cornered

A "Cornered Frosh" Preamble
On behalf of the Office of the Cornered Frosh (1 Employee), I would like to wish everyone a safe and restful term (HA. fat chance), and hope everyone had a restful holiday season. The reason why I am emphasizing the word "restful" so much is that I want to make sure everyone is prepared for another term of The Frosh Cornered. It's coming at you, left and right, no matter if you like it or not. Muhahahahaha, there is no escape from my column.

A Cornered Frosh Legal Disclaimer

I have been warned by my lawyer that I should no longer make reference to the University of Waterloo Quebecois Federation. Although the UWQF is in my "Things I must destroy before I leave list," my legal Advisor, Dominic, has advised me that I am a prime target for a class action lawsuit. Henceforth, I will no longer refer to them as the UWQF. Instead, I will use the generic term "Those Bastards" to describe the UWQF. For example:

Those Bastards are ignorant.

Those Bastards are idiotic.

Those Bastards need a bath.

Those Bastards have a collective IQ of -10.

And so on, and so on. In this case, they can no longer blame me for defacing their name, since I am using a generic term to describe adjectives. If they wish to associate themselves with the descriptive term "Those Bastards," more power to them.

In addition, my legal advisor has also advised me to clarify the following:
Quebec people are nice. I like them a lot. They make good poutine.
Those Bastards are pathetic, brainless, incompetent, and phattiness supreme (The above phrase as taught by my colleague beside me).

Thus ends this week's legal disclaimer... now on to this millennium's inaugural column.

UW Mathie Entrance/Torture Ritual Ends in Disbelief

One fateful day, when I returned to my little closet also known as my dorm room, I turned on the computer and started surfing to let off some steam from my last Calculus class (Or was it my Algebra class, I don't remember). Either way, I was steaming off from a bad day. I jumped onto the UW website for no particular reason and started to read the "Daily Bulletin".

For those unfamiliar with the UW website, you didn't miss much. The site is so bland that it can kill a lethargic person. However, once in a blue moon, the content on the site manages to leap up from the blank white screen and captures our short attention span. This fateful day was no exception.

The bulletin started off with the usual boring stuff, but when I reached the middle, I was reading with disbelief and profound anger. "It couldn't be..." I told myself, and I checked the Math Faculty webpage. Sure enough, a news bulletin on the faculty webpage confirmed my dire suspicions: The Faculty of Mathematics has dropped the Descartes contest from the long list of entrance requirements.

I think everyone is familiar with the infamous Descartes contest. Consisting of 10 questions, this exam was a breeze for students with IQ of infinity, and a field of land mines for the rest of the sane population. I had a friend, named Magno, who aced the thing last year and got an entrance scholarship. For the rest of us "losers", we have to actually study and torture ourselves to guarantee us a chance to come to this university.

That's right, guarantee a CHANCE to come to the university. It is not even a firm guarantee that you'll be offered a spot at UW, but you earn a CHANCE to be CONSIDERED to come to this prestigious university. What joy. You guarantee that chance if you score 40 or higher on the contest. 40!

For some people, getting the 40 was their only aspiration. Just to pass the damn thing to come to the university was torture enough. The months of studying (My OAC teacher prepared us 7 months in advance), torture, kicking, screaming, and just simply mental wrangling lead to one dreadful day where we must face that blue sheet of paper, folded 3 ways, that contain the future of our academic career.

That's right, you heard me right. My peers and I from my high school tortured ourselves for 7 months straight for this exam. The sweat and blood that was spilled over the last 7 months was enough to fill an olympic-size swimming pool. Needless to say, my colleagues and I worked hard and unbelievably long hours to do well on this exam, or at least to pass.

In the end, some of my more smarter colleagues did very well, including Magno, who was actually honoured in a school assembly one day. The more fortunate ones did fairly well, ranging from the high 50's to the low 70's. For many of us, we scored just enough to be actually considered to come to UW. For some of my less fortunate colleagues, they did not make the 40% cut off. I blame society, but the fact is, the UW Faculty of Mathematics must carry the majority of the burden. In a bid to "weed out the less smart population", the Math Faculty has devised this evil exam to cut out many students from being potential candidates for an UW education.

And now, they tell us, the first year frosh who went through the pain and suffering of the Decartes contest, that future generations of Mathies will no longer have to go through with the torture ritual that is usually parallelled with the agony of Klingon pain stiks? (STIK Is the ACTUAL SPELLING for it, I looked it up in a dictionary!) Ahhhh... I think I'm having a heart attack. UNBELIEVABLE.

I am a firm believer of holding on to traditions, no matter how long that tradition lasted (In this case, 2 years). Therefore, I make the following statement: "If I had to go through the torture ritual, the generations of Mathies after me should be honoured with the steaming crap that is known as The Decartes Contest, and its evil brother, 40% Minimum Mark." So be it if human sacrifices must be made so that the population can regale in all its crappiness and evilness for all of eternity.

Okay, I know I got out of hand there, but I am truly perturbed at this unthinkable situation. How could they do this to us. (NOTE: The focus is on the injustice to us. It's all and good for the incoming batch of students, but it's all about US). Torturing yourself on the Decartes, physically compacting all that information into our cranium, attempting to digest all the formulas, trying in vain to regurgitate all the learned data on exam day, and worrying in subtle agony for the exam marks to be released all are components that mold a boy into a true mathie (no offence to the students from years before us who did not have to write the exam. Our senior students didn't have to go through the education process WE went through, that is comparable to the current state of the Mir Space Station. You guys actually had a decent education that was not screwed up by King Mike).

Therefore, I insist, no, I DEMAND, the Faculty of Math to reinstate the Decartes Math Contest so the generations after us will know the endless torture and eternal pain of the Decartes Math Contest. The steaming heap of questions of the exam must be felt and experienced by all potential UW students and should be maintained as an integral part of a UW Mathie's life experiences.

So sayeth the Cornered Frosh, so doeth the flock.

Direct all steaming heaps of hate mail and class action lawsuits to r3lai@student.math.uwaterloo.ca.

Raymond CT Lai
The Cornered Frosh



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