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First Year Drops HUMA, Claims It Does Not ‘Spark Joy’

By Emily Feigenbaum
Jan. 23, 2019

Inspired by the KonMari organizational methods popularized by the Netflix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” a first-year in the College announced that she will drop her HUMA class because it “does not spark joy.”

The KonMari method is trifold, beginning with the decluttering of clothing and moving on to books, papers, and komono (miscellaneous). The goal is to sort through each item, determine if the item gives you a heart-fluttering feeling of happiness, and remove items that do not prompt this sentiment.

Max Palevsky resident Shannon Yates binged the Netflix series over winter break and has since adopted the Shinto-inspired tidying philosophy in her campus life. In her pursuit of only keeping that which sparks joy, Shannon has dropped Media Aesthetics, going against the explicit pleas of her academic advisor to complete her humanities sequence and remain on track to graduate in four years.

“HUMA is mandatory,” said academic advisor Gretchen Martinez. “I have no idea who Marie Kondo is, but she clearly has no conception of UChicago’s core requirements.”

Shannon is reported to have entered Martinez’s office in the west tower of Harper, kneeled next to a ficus plant, and paid her respects to the cramped room for several minutes in silence.

“After she finished thanking the aura of my office, Shannon took all of her Media Aesthetics books and piled them on my desk,” Martinez recalled. “She proceeded to stare quietly at each book, announce that it did not spark joy for her, thank it, and gently place it into a garbage bag.”

Seemingly unbothered by the fact that she will be ineligible to graduate if she does not complete two quarters of her humanities course, Shannon defended her choice to let go of Media Aesthetics and cleanse her life of negative energy.

“Plato doesn’t spark joy for me,” Shannon explained. “Neither do Walter Benjamin’s theories on mass media, or the strange distribution of individual desks around the main table in our Cobb classroom. After letting go of HUMA, I feel lighter and happier than I’ve ever felt before.”

Though Shannon is not the first UChicago student to become disillusioned with core requirements, she is the first of Martinez’s advisees to feel zero pressure to complete them.

“Almost none of my students like HUMA. They also don’t like calculus, biology, or physical science,” Martinez stressed. “I’m concerned that if students only complete classes that bring them joy, no one will graduate from the University of Chicago.”