This weekend, I made a site visit to the UTexas TASP. Now, let me begin by saying that I love this program. This is my second year as the UTexas site liaison, and next year I will be the TASP Comm chair. I spend several (as in, hundreds of) hours doing work for this program. Sometimes, though, I just have to laugh. During my visit this weekend, I led a two hour feedback session, where the goal was for me to get feedback from the TASPers on their collective experience so far. Of course, many TASPers voiced frustration over typical things that high schoolers care about that don’t really matter. The biggest of which was, “Don’t the factota answer to us?”
I’m sorry, but are you over eighteen? Did your parents suddenly change their minds, and decide that the Telluride Association is no longer responsible for your safety? Does it, in any shape or form, make sense that 22 year olds hired by a program to perserve the well-being of 16-17 year old participants, would suddenly have to explain all their actions to said 16-17 year-olds? So, dear TASPers, the answer to your question is a resounding, “No!”
What was, perhaps, even more comical, was the shocked look on their faces. I think one girl’s jaw literally dropped. One boy’s eyes doubled in size. Another girl physically pouted. (How long has it been since I actually saw someone pout!) Oh my, oh my; it was entertaining. From there, it only got better. Someone raised their hand to argue, “By virtue of being selected for such a prestiguous program, we aren’t going to drink or do drugs or have sex.” I hate to burst your bubble, but once again, you are high school students, subject to very few rules over the summer — and we’ve kicked other “selected” individuals for all of those things, and worse.
Then, they began to describe how the factota are clearly out to get them.
A TASPer (In a complaining voice): One time, this group of students came home late, and they all got punished for it. But they weren’t really being punished for being late, but the factota were secretly and maliciously trying to break up a clique.
Me: So, let me get this straight. A group of people broke an established rule together, and they were given the same punishment — together?
A different TASPer (in an exasperated voice): Yes, but the factota only cracked down because they wanted to break up the clique, but didn’t want to specifically say they were breaking up the clique.
Me: I still don’t understand. Why is people being given the established punishment for breaking the established rules such a bad thing!
Another TASPer (with hand gestures to emphasize words): BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T REVEAL THE REAL REASON THEY WERE HANDING OUT THE PUNISHMENT!
At this point, I realized that spending my time debating with high schoolers over what makes sense and what doesn’t make sense is rather pointless. I then got to go on a power trip and say something to the effect of, “Those are the rules, and you have to follow them because I say so and I am the boss.” And then they stopped whining! And it was great! (This, by the way, is completely okay, because I managed to keep a straight face during the entire discussion.)
All that said, if you know someone who will be a high school sophomore or a high school junior in the fall, have them apply for one of the Telluride Association programs for high school students. TASS is for sophomores; TASP, for juniors. They will probably have an excellent time at the program, and provide entertainment for the program’s site liaison.