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Students, like birds, grow weary fighting multiple distractions

March 4, 2003

By Heather Price

The start of every year brings the beginning of another journey. As they migrate south season after season, they are on a mission. This mission calls them to stay focused, attentive and in proper formation. But along this trek, there is one unalterable fact: they will be busy.

Where do these birds find rest? After flying until their wings sag with exhaustion, they find relaxation on the branches of trees. This is their one moment to pause from the intensity of the journey through the sky. It is their chance to calm down, to forget about following the assigned formation and just stop.

But what happens when these birds can't find a refuge in the trees? What if there was a distraction that made them fear the one place in which they found safety and rest?

I noticed the most amazing sight last week on the Baylor campus. As I heard the chirping of birds, I initially just thought it to be normal. Then, I realized it was the sound of a hawk. But when I looked to the sky, my eyes continued to search in confusion. The sound was not made by a hawk. It was instead a device put next to all the trees to keep the birds away. It was an instrument of distraction.

How many times do we find an instrument of distraction in our own lives? Along the hectic journey of each semester, how often do we rest? And when we attempt this moment of idleness, is there a distraction that forces us to keep moving?

College students fill every moment with class, activities, work and pointless errands that fill space in a carefully calculated day planner. Rarely is there a single moment of stillness. Much like the birds, when they slow down and prepare to stop, something distracts them.

The distracting sound is the call of another meaningless meeting or frivolous function. Initially, fear consumes them, as they feel that they must turn away from their place of rest and do these tasks. They feel like they must keep flying.

I noticed yet another thing on the way to class last week. I saw a girl hysterically crying while talking on her cell phone. She muttered these words in a broken, half gasping tone, 'I can't do it anymore. I'm just too busy. Something has to go.'

She was right. Her life had been like that of a bird who heard the counterfeit sound of the hawk. As she was about to rest, fear kept her going. She did not even realize the insignificance of the threat. This process of deceit had left this girl in complete agony, much like a bird that had been in the sky entirely too long.

Many students at Baylor feel the same way. They have become birds misled by the sound of the imaginary hawk, birds that have been away from their tree for too many seasons.

'There is more stuff to do than I physically can; but I want to do it all,' said Jennifer Pemberton, a sophomore business major from Austin. 'That's the worst part. I have to schedule everything in, and if I don't there isn't time, not even time to eat.'

Baylor students are extremely overinvolved. Over the past six years, Baylor has expanded its student activities department to accommodate the multitude of new organizations. They have had to hire many new employees and have added two new departments. 'Baylor has twice as many students' organizations than Texas A&M University, ratiowise,' Clif Mouser, Baptist Student Ministries director, said.

'I have been on six different campuses, and Baylor is the busiest one I have ever seen,' Mouser said. Students are not taking the time to rest from all the activities.

'When I try to take naps, I can't because I have too much to do. My mind is constantly going through my list of things to do,' Melanie Byrd, a sophomore biology major from Dallas, said.

'Very few things at this school teach us to pause,' Mouser said. 'There are not many places on campus where reflection is practiced.' Students have become entirely too busy with activities; they have lost the true happiness found in college.

'I am so busy today; I left my apartment at 7 a.m. and won't get home until midnight,' said Wendy Hulin, a speech pathology major from San Antonio.

This constant business is causing a huge problem on the Baylor campus. 'We are experiencing famine in the mist of plenty,' Mouser said. Students have become consumed by the hectic lifestyle and it has been way too long since most of them have taken any form of a break.

These students are crying out for help, as they softly mutter the words, 'something has to go.' They have all become birds scared by the threat of the fake hawk. And they have all been led astray by an instrument of distraction.