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By now, day and night have been replaced by the glow of monitors and the darkness of blinking eyelids. Butos makes his regular trip to the Den at 11 p.M., where all eyes are fixed on the television and March Madness. Sitting near the back, seniors share some madness of their own. “I kept falling asleep last night but kept typing these incoherent sentences about my dreams, and I sent the draft to my adviser,” Butos says. “I was so afraid I had a dream where I hated him or something.”
Thursday, March 18Looking their worst physically in what might be their finest intellectual moments, the honors students are on the verge of emerging from what Tardif calls a “crucible.” Minds go numb yet become sharper than ever. Bates’ 52 finest are oblivious to the sacrifices that have brought them so far. They’ve got that “doing-without-doing” thing going.
Geo major Kugel, of Concord, N.H., besides developing a kind of carpel tunnel syndrome in her right wrist, is missing nearly one-third of her softball season, including a preseason trip to Florida, in order to finish her thesis and join Guiterman and others at the Geological Society of America’s conference in Washington, D.C. (Afterwards, their professor, Dyk Eusden ’80, will report that conference geologists were “in awe” of the Bates students’ research.) Musing about his birthday on the slopes, Guiterman jokes, “I think I’ll only be able to ski for an hour or two because I’ve atrophied so much.”
They’ve become intellectual professionals: days begin early enough for breakfast (no rolling out of bed at 11 a.M.), work continues through lunch with a half-hour break for dinner, and their only idle thoughts are if they’ll have time to enjoy a semblance of a weekend.
Marching to a different campus beat, they nevertheless keep their place within it. “It scares the shit out of people” when his radio goes off with an emergency call, Butos says of his late-night duty with Bates Emergency Medical Services, a student-run team of licensed EMTs. “You forget about that part of life when you’re doing thesis.”