Mutualism: Hard-working, kindly, and intellectual educators and inspired students
Mutualism is pretty basic: two organisms work together and mutually benefit. When professors and TAs actually care about their subjects and their students, and the students in turn have respect for their teachers and their courses, anything is possible.
The student gets good grades and lifelong knowledge, the profs and TAs get good reviews and a sense of fulfilment and continued work. It’s all rainbows; everyone’s happy, like bees pollinating flowers.
Commensalism: The hapless droning professor and the students who have given up
Commensalism is a type of symbiosis where one organism benefits and the other goes unaffected. Not all professors go in for this, but the ones who do are the ones whose lectures are as bland as Siri. As their dispassionate, voluminous voices fill up the hall, students find themselves drifting off, only to refocus three hours later and ask themselves, are you seriously still talking?
Through subjecting the students to this, the professor benefits by maintaining a job that nets them a fat paycheque from the university. The students, meanwhile, are neither helped nor harmed: though they learn little, they have long since adapted to reading everything out of the textbook or checking the lecture slides later.
Essentially, you are a coral reef, and these professors are swimming around inside you like clownfish, building opulent undersea castles out of your biological tissue where they can play and frolic.
Parasitism: Overpriced campus businesses and broke students
Parasitism, as you likely well know, is when one organism benefits by sucking the life out of the other. It may seem strange to classify financial transactions under this label — isn’t the whole point that it’s an exchange of goods taking place?
The problem is, everything you need to buy is so stupid that you may as well be getting nothing in return. When will you use an iClicker once you’re done school? When will you need to suffer under the reign of SFU Document Solutions once you’re no longer doing your graphic design work at a school that offers few-to-no other high-quality printing options? When will you benefit from the various fees you pay in your tuition fees for services that you don’t even use, like the Recreation fee?
It’s all a trap. Like the delicious sashimi you find yourself eating south of the border before realizing you’ve taken in a tapeworm, all the supposed goods you get for what you pay with are just dressing concealing the true enemy.
Synnecrosis: Student bureaucracy and students
Everyone knows about symbiosis — but synnecrosis is when two organisms work together and both of them suffer. For example, a parasite that takes shelter in your stomach before realizing that it got the wrong host species. It gets sick and dies, and then you get sick, too.
As the various tiers of student government at SFU try to collaborate to bring joy and love to the student body, all they seem to do is trip over each other, and make life for students more difficult. Room booking beef, Build SFU levies on students who won’t use the SUB, everyone’s advocacy for the gondola . . . sigh. Meanwhile, many students strike back at the student government, by refusing to vote on anything important, yet complaining every time something at the school doesn’t go their way.
Until these two groups sink or swim, we will be left suspended in the in-between space of everything being basically, but not actually, dead.