The bureau chief audited history and French classes at San Francisco State from 2006 to 2011 and may audit some more in the future. In addition to appreciating just how good the professors were, I was amazed at the energy, beauty and optimism of the students, my own college days being long in the past. I came across a quote from Paul Fussell, in his book "Doing Battle", that sums up what I felt.
". . . the sentimentalist indulged the melancholy thought that when deserted by students, classrooms are dead in a way no other public spaces are. What ecstasies and shames have been experienced in these neutral rooms, with their characterless fixed-arm chairs, blackboards, and teachers' desks. What intellectual beauty has had its moments there in the midst of such depressing plainness and utility. . . College students are so fresh, so noisy and so beautiful that their absence from empty classrooms is unignorably melodramatic and touching. They and their charming loquacity pass, but the room is silent, and it remains, in its permanence and anonymity making the ironic comment:'You young people grow old; your hopes and certainties alike will fade away; your vigor and beauty will vanish; you will be replaced by others like you, equally self-certain and self-concerned.' "
I could have named this post mortality or the human condition but that seemed too uninviting.