Navigate Left
  • Photo taken by Molly Myers on Sept. 3, 2023 downtown across from where the Farmers Market is held.


    Abandoned shoes in Chico: photo series

  • Left side of table, Jenna McMahon, Nathan Chiochios and Jessica Miller sit with, on the right side front to back, Callum Standish, Molly Myers, Nadia Hill, and Grace Stark at  Estom Jamani Dining Commons. Photo taken April 29 by a kind employee at the dining hall.


    The Orion tries the dining hall

  • Both faculty members’ and students’ mental health are suffering due to a lack of support at Chico State and across the California State University System. Photo by Vie Studio on Pexels.


    Faculty, students’ mental health continue to suffer

  • Thanks to horror films, some names have been ruined ... or made cool. Photo by Jeswin Thomas from Pexels.

    Arts & Entertainment

    Names horror films have ruined … or made cool

  • Sydney Sweeney in Immaculate. Photo courtesy of NEON.

    Arts & Entertainment

    He said, she said: ‘Immaculate’

Navigate Right
Breaking News
Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Undeclared or confused about your major? It gets better

Photo credit: Dongyoung Won

I came to Chico State as a criminal justice major. That’s right, America, another white guy ready to join the ranks of the police. It’s a particularly controversial time to be affiliated with law enforcement, but I think I speak for all the declarees here when I say our first aim is to help people.

The department is packed with revolutionaries and fresh perspectives on justice or Constitutional interpretation.

You might expect the political science department to be the most straight-edge, ascetic of the bunch, but in the era of Rob Fordian-crack smoking and cops advocating for marijuana decriminalization, maybe it’s not surprising to discover the exact same prevalence of recreational drug use.

When I got my first minor in possession charge last year, I was worried I’d be instantly disqualified from a career in law enforcement. This fear was way over the top, but useful, in helping me reevaluate my priorities and options.

When the rug is pulled from beneath your feet, and you think your entire future career is in jeopardy, it’s like getting shot. Or stabbed, a sensation I’m more familiar with.

Everything rolls over. For years I thought my role was that of a police officer: It was what I was put on the planet to be. Now, that route seems like a mundane existence. But when the concept was first taken from me, it began a long period of confusion and anguish, finally culminating with a fierce wave of belonging and balance.

My “aha” moment punched me in the throat and burned to my heart. I was half-naked, typing an essay on metaphysics in a seedy, one-bedroom apartment in Hollywood, 2 a.m. The very last drop of my own money had evaporated a few days prior.

The guy next to me had probably slept 10 hours in the last three days, and from the middle of his self-concerned activity began, “Yo Bill, how you doing?”

“Beastmode,” I replied, “I’m beastmoding.” He got up and returned with two fingers of rum. I didn’t have a say in whether I was going to drink this one, and I knew I definitely wouldn’t have a say in whether we were going to take more.

We cheered, talked about toothpaste for a second and then resumed our pressing activities. The whole thing was rather brief but I realized it was exactly what I wanted to be doing – it was how I felt best: broke, shirtless, sleep-deprived and sitting with a fiery burning sensation (in my esophagus from alcohol and in my fingers from passion).

I’ve dished a lot of criticism on college in the past. The contention around the union strike, for example, is only the tip of the iceberg in educational reform that must begin. Soon.

But college, I steadily discover, actually is the beginning of the rest of your life, and it’s time to embrace all the possibilities. I came here a criminal justice major, ready to work patrol the next 20 years of my life; now, I study the difference between a “grain” of rice and a “heap” of rice in the philosophy department.

But life is fun now. You never know what is next, and sometimes you need an “aha” moment to propel you there. It can’t be anticipated or coaxed out: It must take you by storm. Mine began with a police detention and ended with alcohol; usually, good stories go in reverse order. Bukowski was only partially correct: You must let what you love find you, and then let it kill you.

So freshmen and seniors alike, worry not about your undeclared status, or the coercive unfulfilled passions of your parents or the career a large mechanistic society told you was essential for success and wealth. One day, a piece of eternity will brush against you, and you will say “aha,” and you’ll get drunk on it. And before the final overdose that will climax your serendipitous existence, you’ll face the toilet bowl of the Earth and vomit out a completely human masterpiece.

William Rein can be reached at [email protected] or @toeshd on Twitter.

View Comments (2)
More to Discover

Comments (2)

All The Orion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • A

    Ari Bean // Apr 11, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    So, William Rein, let’s discuss majors and our education here.

    You who are about to receive a diploma from Chico State should also receive an apology from this university. And a refund of a large portion of your tuition you have paid.

    You have been cheated, bilked, propagandized and badly educated. Your tuition has been much too costly, for which you can blame the federal government and the avarice of the university.

    Washington policies have produced a bubble in higher education just the way it produced the bubble in housing. Some government planners decided that too few people owned homes. So the planners decided to force an increase in home ownership. They lowered lending standards for people seeking a mortgage. This produced a glut of sub-prime loans. And sub-prime borrowers. And then a crash.

    Next, some government geniuses decided that there were too few college students. So government made student loans and other tuition subsidies easier to get. Of course, colleges and universities responded by increasing tuition to capture these government subsidies. Which is why the cost of college has been rising 4 times faster than the rate of inflation.

    The cost of college has increased faster than the cost of healthcare. There is now in excess of $1 TRILLION in student loan debt. There is more student loan debt than credit card debt. More than auto loan debt.

    William, you will likely graduate with debt. In effect, you will be graduating with a mortgage but with no house.

    And what did you get for all of this expense? A sub-prime education.

    Today’s students study many fewer hours a week than students a generation ago. But they are getting higher grades. This too is a result of government creating perverse incentives. The government money gives colleges and universities a powerful incentive to admit more and more students. Inevitably this means more and more students who are marginally qualified — or unqualified, Many of these will pay tuition for a few semesters and then leave school with debt but no degree. Others will plod along, paying tuition, piling up debt, and eventually getting a degree, but not in four years.


    Those of you who major in gender studies, or women’s studies, or ethnicity studies, or cinema deconstruction, or any other of today’s fads, I have this advice:

    When you take off your cap and gown at graduation, do not look for a job. Instead go straight to the unemployment office. This university did not equip you to add value to the American economy.

    Soon, this university ‘s office in charge of alumni giving, will contact you and ask you for money. Your response should be, “Are you kidding?” Instead of sending money to this university, just send a schedule of your student loan repayments. If this campus is like most campuses, you have been living in a community of enforced conformity. When you leave and enter the real world, you are in for a shock.

    I believe Chico Statet has a speech code. It has forbidden and punished speech that did not conform to fashionable political pieties.

    Chico State has been taught that you have a special entitlement — that you are entitled to pass through life without hearing any speech that annoys, depresses, confuses, offends, or otherwise distresses you.

    I don’t know for certain, but I think Chico State even has a “free speech zone” – a small , isolated inconvenient space where students are allowed to exercise First Amendment rights. But guess what? Off campus, out in reality, nobody recognizes this entitlement. You will find that the US Constitution makes the rest of America – all of it –a free speech zone.

    This school has restricted free speech in order to protect your tender sensitivities and to protect your feelings from being hurt. When you leave this campus, you will have to “un-learn” the silliness that you have been taught here. The idea that you deserve to be treated as a frail flower.

    So, William, you and everyone else here has been saddled with debt and bad ideas. Good luck. You’re going to need it. We all will.

    • W

      William Rein // Apr 27, 2016 at 12:16 pm


      I completely agree.